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Bre has been doing some great blogging on the science of sports--and specifically the injuries associated with gymnastics--over at Flying High. Check out this post on the effects of caffeine on athletes for an example. Bre's posts are good for a number of reasons--they're an appropriate length, they're well written, feature good, relevant multimedia content, and teach us something about science or medicine in each one. And, her video blog is great! Nice work, Bre.
7:37 AM 0 comments

One Last BP Guest Post

How has the New York Times framed the oil spill?

Michelle Arenas
Alexander Maul
Taylor Ruder

NY Times was chosen to analyze because it was convenient and had a large number of articles to analyze.  Three periods were analyzed; immediately after the explosion, after the well was capped, and at the present time. 

Our hypothesis is that New York Times started out by writing deficit model articles to inform the public of the spill.  As time moved forward, we believe that they made the switch to writing more framed articles based on facts from experts, government and agencies, with the position of blaming BP and the government for not stopping the flow faster.  After the well was capped we believe that more articles were framed to show how the spill has affected people and how the lives of those near the gulf have been affected.  We believe that these types of articles have continued today and that the shift to framing the articles on lessons learned has begun.

The articles were categorized and separated into 4 groups, each with subgroups.  The first was informational.  This helped us to see how many articles were deficit model.  The next category was Vox Populi “voice of the people”.  We then split this category up into optimistic and skeptical. 

The next category was “reaction articles towards responsible parties”.  This included BP and the oil industry in general.  The final category was “reaction articles towards the administration”.  Both of these were split into optimistic and skeptical categories. 

After reading and analyzing about 180 articles from the time periods, the following data was acquired.

Immediately after the spill:

As shown, the majority of the articles are informational, the other third was about equally split among the other categories. 

After the well was capped:

The informational articles go down and the emphasis is placed on opinions of the responsible parties. 

Present time:

In the present, a year later, there are almost no informational articles.  They are all based on analysis of the responsible parties and the administration actions. 

The overall comparison gives a better representation of the public’s and writer’s feelings during the given time periods.    

 During the first time period, the articles were all informational and then evenly spread between the skeptical subcategories of each.  After the well was capped, it all began to even out a little.  There were fewer informational and some optimistic started to appear.  The present time period is a good spread of several categories.  There are a lot of optimistic articles towards BP in the present.  Is this how the general public feels?  We think so. 

4:17 PM 2 comments

Video Blog, At Last, and Goodbye!

Well, I think I got my technical difficulties figured out, so hopefully this works :).  Thanks again to everyone for participating this semester in Science Communication--it has been great getting to know all of you.  Here are some parting words...

3:23 PM 0 comments

Guest Post: BP Oil Spill #9

Meaghan Kenna
Matt Nobles
Kris Alley
Sean Hovelkamp

The BP oil spill was a major environmental disaster.  The spill has had a huge impact on many people locally, nationally, and internationally.  Much emphasis is placed on how the federal government reacts to environmental disasters; therefore we thought it would be interesting to do a study on how the reactions of the BP spill changed over time by examining the number of times certain words were used by the White House.  Our research question was the following:
How did the White House’s framing of the BP oil spill shift over time?
Based on our literature review of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, our group formed a hypothesis.  Before performing our study our hypothesis was that the White House response to the deep water horizon oil spill will focus more on environmental damage first and later focus on communities and solutions to the spill.
The main source of information for our study was www.whitehouse.gov , a website where government officials posted information.  We decided to break up the study by examining speeches and remarks, statements and releases, and the blog separately.  The weighted number of times certain words were used by the White House was analyzed to eliminate skewed data by the length of the speeches, statements, or blogs.
Our analysis gave the following results:
Speeches and remarks:

Statements and releases:


Overall, the White House’s framing of the oil spill did not change as much as anticipated.  The analysis of the speeches and remarks indicates that they consistently promised reparations while emphasizing White House involvement.  The statement and releases analysis however, showed that they increased the focus on BP and they decreased the attention on the White House’s efforts.   The analysis of the White House blog indicated that the White House’s focus on the community steadily rose, while the talk of disaster declined. 
These results surprised us, as they were significantly different.  We speculated that this was due to the fact that each one of these methods of communication was intended for different audiences as well as the fact that different people were writing or speaking them.  We saw a high amount of talk about the economy, which we didn’t expect beforehand, but now looking back at it, it makes sense.  Our economy is a big concern at this time, and will be addressed following  disasters such as this one.  We also noticed that the speeches and remarks made mostly by the president, did not mention solutions to the problem at all.  This is most likely due to the fact that they did not want to be held accountable for solutions to the problem.  As scientists and engineers would like for the government to communicate solutions to the disaster, but politics also has to be considered.
Some things that we would do different, if we were to repeat the study would be:
·       More key words
·       Lengthen the amount of time the study covered
·       Include more sources