MESSENGER: Media, Science and Society: Engagement and Governance in Europe
MESSENGER project addresses the core of the Science and Society Work Programme which, in its introduction, states:
“In a knowledge-based society, both policy makers and citizens should be equipped to make informed choices from the ever-growing range of options thrown up by scientific and technological progress. The aim of this part of the programme is to help develop the environment in which this can be achieved.”
The role of the media is critical in enabling informed participation of this nature and is the primary focus of MESSENGER.
The general objectives of MESSENGER are:
- To contribute to the informed debate among scientists, journalists and representatives of civil society concerning the production of science, technology and health news, and the communication of risk in this context;
- To identify opportunities for appropriate engagement of relevant stakeholders and actors in the governance of scientific research and its applications in Europe;
- To determine perceptions of media coverage of science, technology and health issues in a representative sample of EU countries;
- To facilitate and improve the quality of dissemination of scientific information and advice through the mass media in Europe;
- To generate specific outputs of practical value in improving the transmission of scientific information and advice.
The specific objectives of MESSENGER are:
- To develop Guidelines produced by the Social Issue Research Centre - SIRC in partnership with the Royal Institution and Royal Society to ensure their relevance and applicability to media reporting and communication of science, technology and health issues across Europe;
- To determine through consultation with relevant actors and stakeholders, perceptions of science media coverage across Europe – particularly the communication and discussion of risks and benefits arising from research;
- To establish how communication of risk and discussion of risk-related issues impacts on perceptions of scientific enterprise in EU countries. Consultation with key stakeholder groups and civil society organisations will form the basis for both the development and the evaluation of this aspect of the work;
- To develop a comprehensive methodology for analysing the production and coverage of science, technology and health news;
- To determine the various roles and styles of the print and broadcast media in a representative sample of EU countries;
- To develop relevant products for the briefing and training of EC-funded scientists in the dissemination of their work, based on consultation with all groups of relevant actors and stakeholders;
- To develop materials/modules based on the Guidelines to assist in the training of journalists;
- To develop materials of relevance to ‘consumers’ of science news to aid their discernment of critical issues and to encourage further dialogue between scientists, journalists and representatives of civil society.
These objectives will be achieved through three integrated main activity areas:
- Europe-wide consultation with representatives within the science, technology and health communities, journalism organisations and representatives of civil society. A detailed analysis of the consultations will be conducted with summary output embedded in the European Guidelines.
- Media analysis of science, technology and health issues across Europe to assess the cultures, roles and styles of the media in communicating science. Case studies will be developed. Outputs will comprise briefing documents for EC-funded scientists and support materials to accompany the European Guidelines.
- Dissemination and exploitation of the results via the establishment of two overlapping networks; one associated with EC Programmes and related groups, the other with organisations external to EC research programmes, involving journalists, broadcasters, teachers of science journalism, representatives of the various scientific disciplines and representatives of civil society groups.
The MESSENGER consortium consists of two partners: Social Issues Research Centre-SIRC Uk and the Press Institute of ASCoR, the Netherlands.
SIRC and ASCoR will both be involved in the two main research elements of the MESSENGER programme - consultation and media analysis. While ASCoR will provide the methodological framework and a detailed case study of the role of the media in communicating science in the Netherlands, SIRC will undertake a wider comparative analysis using the developed methodologies. Through this joint and complementary activity, specific and valuable deliverables will be generated.
MESSENGER is a twelve month project funded by the European Commission under the Science and Society initiative.
To participate in the web-based consultation:
For further information on the project please visit the MESSENGER website: