AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXVIII, No. 1, Spring 1996

 

Science Museum Makes Available An Archive of Science and Technology in the British Press 1946-1990

The Science Museum in London announced the following over the Internet: We have the pleasure to make publicly available a major and unique resource for research in Public Understanding of Science--The Science Museum Media Monitor Archive. The archive, the offshoot of a content analysis project, will benefit anyone who is interested in studying comparatively science and technology in the post-war period.

The objectives of the project are to explore the pattern of science and technology coverage in British national newspapers after 1946; to collect historical data from 1946 to the present, as the basis for the "Science in the Media Archive" to be used as a research and teaching resource; to develop an instrument that assesses both the quantity and the quality of press coverage in form of a cultural indicator of the popular representations of science and technology; and to to explore systematically trends in press coverage and the relationship to the political context.

The archives contains hard copies of 6000 articles from a stratified random cluster sample of science and technology coverage in the British national daily press from 1946 to 1990. The stratification of the sample takes into account the changing segmentation of the British press into quality and popular press, political left and right, opinion leadership function, and total readership. Our own analysis used an elaborate coding frame of around 100 codes. This analysis is computerized, and can among other things be used as an index system to trace particular material of interest. Each article has been photocopied, archived by year and newspaper, coded and entered into a SPSS database. Both the photocopies of the articles and the database are accessible in the archive for comparative research purposes. It is envisaged that the archive will be ultimately kept up to date on a regular basis. Details on the sampling procedure and the coding frame technical reports are available upon request.

The Science Museum Library stores the complete set of 4 volumes of technical reports "Science and Technology in the British Press, 1946-1990." The Science Page on the World Wide Web (http://www.nmsi.ac.uk/researchers/mediamn.html) gives an idea of the kinds of variables used for the analysis of science coverage. We are inviting researchers all over the world to make use of this archival material for their own quantitative or qualitative analysis and in particular for comparative purposes. For further information contact: Asdis G. Ragnarsdottir, Media Monitor Archive, Science Museum Library, Exhibition Road, London SW7 5NH phone: +171 938 8237; fax: +171 938 8213: e-mail: a.ragnarsdottir@nmsi.ac.uk; or Dr. Martin Bauer, London School of Economics, Department of Social Psychology, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, phone: +171 955 6864; fax: +171 955 7005; e-mail: bauer@lse.ac.uk.


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