The role of organizations in the public communication of science – Early research, recent studies, and open questions
Organizational science communication of higher education institutions (and research institutes outside the university sector) came into view of scholars of “science journalism” soon after the begin of systematic studies of the scientist-journalist relationship. While the pioneering French study of scientists’ relationship with the mass media by Boltanski and Maldidier (1970) focused on implications of the norms of the scientific community for public communication by scientists, early surveys of scientists in the United States (Dunwoody & Ryan, 1982, 1983) and – peripherally – also in Germany (Krüger, 1985; Peters & Krüger, 1985) considered both the scientific community and the university (or other public research organizations) as relevant contexts of the scientist-journalist relationship. The issue of organizational science public relations (PR) was also addressed by scholars and practitioners in publications and workshops in Europe (see, e.g., Peters, 1984; Ruß-Mohl, 1990; Zerges & Becker, 1992) in the 1980s and early 1990s. While researchers were not oblivious of self-interests’ influence in public communication activities of universities and other research institutions, the dominant perspective on science communication was that of the relationship of science and the media, and PR officers at science organizations were largely conceptualized as “mediators between scientists and journalists” (Dunwoody & Ryan, 1983) or as “practitioner in the middle” (Rogers, 1988).
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