Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


Home > Press > On slippery science subjects, Internet news delivers

Internet-based science news draws a more demographically diverse, learned and focused audience than print or television news, according to a study by University of Wisconsin-Madison communication researchers.

By Chris Barncard

On slippery science subjects, Internet news delivers

Madison, WI | Posted on March 31st, 2010

"Science and technology are among the top reasons people go online," says Ashley Anderson, a UW-Madison doctoral student in life sciences communication. "And those people are more diverse in age and race and more knowledgeable about science and technology than people relying on traditional media. This points to the importance of online communication in reaching a broad audience for science."

Readers of science and technology news online are twice as likely to come from non-white racial groups as consumers of print science news. The Internet virtually levels out gender differences, according to data from the Nielsen Company and Wisconsin Survey Center, while shifting upward the percentage of the audience with college degrees and completely missing those without high school diplomas.

Tracking Google search queries and Web content on nanotechnology, Anderson along with UW-Madison life sciences communication professors Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele analyzed who goes online for science content, what nanotechnology topics people are looking for, and what they are likely to find when they search for nanotechnology online. Their work will appear in the May issue of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research and is available now on the journal's Web site.

The researchers found that online searchers were most interested in nanobots and health topics, with specialized applications of nanotechnology cropping up slightly less often. In analysis of 19 top sites commonly found in Google searches, health-related information dominated, appearing roughly twice as frequently as technology, research and business nanotech information.

"Clearly, health is the dominant topic for nanotechnology, which somewhat restricts the discourse," Brossard says. "Obviously the technology has much wider applications."

Tracking online content about nanotechnology is important because of the specialized nature of the topic, which is less likely to be found covered in depth in traditional print or broadcast media, according to Anderson.

"Our study tracked 10 different content themes and found that different types of Web sites deal in widely different types of nano content," Anderson says.

Science sites without a particular nanotechnology focus and were more likely to feature stories about applications of nanotechnology in health or environment or national security arenas. Web sites aimed specifically at nanotechnology and among them were more likely to be reporting on policy issues such as research and regulation, while health almost disappeared as a topic. Government sites primarily focused on business information.

Topics like risks, benefits and uncertainty fell well behind the rest of the content.

"How nanotechnology is portrayed online is important because of the broad reach online media has to different audiences of science information," says Anderson. "Online media sources are the predominant information environment for specialized scientific issues like nanotechnology."


For more information, please click here

Copyright © University of Wisconsin-Madison

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Discovery about new battery overturns decades of false assumptions October 7th, 2015

Modification of Nanofiltration Membranes in Water Purification Process October 7th, 2015

Observing the unobservable: Researchers measure electron orbitals of molecules in 3-D October 6th, 2015

Superconductivity trained to promote magnetization: Russian scientist and her colleagues discovered the superconductivity effect, which will help to create future supercomputers October 6th, 2015


Discovery about new battery overturns decades of false assumptions October 7th, 2015

Modification of Nanofiltration Membranes in Water Purification Process October 7th, 2015

Nanoscale photodetector shows promise to improve the capacity of photonic circuits: Researchers at the University of Rochester have fabricated a device in which light can induce a current using a silver nanowire -- an important step toward harnessing light to speed up the next ge October 6th, 2015

Big range of behaviors for tiny graphene pores: Like biological channels, graphene pores are selective for certain types of ions October 6th, 2015

The latest news from around the world, FREE

  Premium Products
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More

Nanotechnology Now Featured Books


The Hunger Project

Car Brands
Buy website traffic