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Science takes up just 1% of the news in daily papers in the Basque Autonomous Community

According to a study carried out by the Elhuyar Fundazioa, the Basque Science and Technology Foundation, during the six months between November 2003 and April 2004, the daily newspapers of the Basque Autonomous Community (the BAC): Gara, Berria, El Diario Vasco, Deia and El Correo Espa?ol, had only 1% of their news coverage on science topics.

News about science and technology published within this period in the daily print media was analysed according to the sources of information and according to whether the news reports referred to the Basque Country or not. During the period in question, 1,252 articles were published in the five papers in the BAC . In the case of the Berria, Gara and the El Correo Español newspapers, the articles on science and technology are usually penned by a journalist or journalists specialising in this section. Even so, the newspapers do not foment scientific learning and training. Articles are even published without a by-line. At the same time, there have been few articles dealing with different opinions on science themes (a total of only 18). So, although the space dedicated to science is increasing, as regards articles on opinions, the importance given to them is little. This would suggest that newspapers do not treat science in the same way as politics, finance, the economy or sports, etc. Moreover, in these articles of opinion the scientists themselves have little to say. Even so, just when we the data collection phase of this project was given its finishing touches, Berria the only newspaper published entirely in Basque language, launched an opinion column about scientific topics. This section used to appear for years in the now non-existent Egunkaria daily and it is now being reinstated with the new newspaper. The column started on 6 May and our research data had already finished by 30 April. Also, to decide whether to insert an item on science or not, the public interest generated or likely to be generated by the item is taken into account, i.e. if the news is producing some wave of interest in society in general. In general, the news item is not assessed or valued according to its scientific importance, but deemed fit for publication by outside agencies and interests: press agencies, governments, specialised magazines or conference organisers who carry out this evaluation work. Press Offices/PR Departments and news services also take part in this filtering process, given that the media respond better when a concrete news item is being followed up. It has also been possible to show that certain items have had special relevance over these six months; for example, research about Mars and chicken flu. In general, research about the red planet has had great repercussion in the daily papers. As regards news specifically relating to the BAC, particular importance was given in the papers to the Science Week and the Euskadi Research Awards.