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Manufacturing Doubt: Journalists' Roles and the Construction of Ignorance in a Scientific Controversy

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Abstract:

In recent decades, corporate and other interests have developed a wide repertoire of methods to manufacture doubt by constructing scientific ignorance in controversies where they feel threatened by academic research, with profound implications for public access to and understanding of science. This case study examines journalist's responses to rhetorical claims in one such controversy. Facing research findings that an explosion of industrial hog farms in North Carolina showed disproportionate siting of these facilities in poor African-American communities, and that neighbors of mega-farms reported increased health problems, industry attacked the research as politically motivated "pseudo-science" and mobilized legal and political threats against the researcher, his community partners, and his university. Our findings offer fresh insight into how and why reporters respond to the strategic ignorance claims of actors who seek to discredit threatening science. In so doing, they contribute to growing scholarship on journalists' role in the social construction of ignorance.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

claim (116), industri (112), journalist (104), scienc (101), research (85), studi (78), ignor (77), scientif (70), hog (69), public (68), health (62), news (57), scientist (46), stori (45), farm (44), report (41), pork (39), knowledg (38), 1999 (38), environment (36), case (36),

Author's Keywords:

Social construction, ignorance, public science, environment, controversies, journalists roles, manufacturing doubt
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Name: International Communication Association
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MLA Citation:

Stocking, S. Holly. and Holstein, Lisa. "Manufacturing Doubt: Journalists' Roles and the Construction of Ignorance in a Scientific Controversy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden International Congress Centre, Dresden, Germany, Jun 16, 2006 <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p91537_index.html>

APA Citation:

Stocking, S. and Holstein, L. W. , 2006-06-16 "Manufacturing Doubt: Journalists' Roles and the Construction of Ignorance in a Scientific Controversy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden International Congress Centre, Dresden, Germany Online <PDF>. 2013-12-17 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p91537_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: In recent decades, corporate and other interests have developed a wide repertoire of methods to manufacture doubt by constructing scientific ignorance in controversies where they feel threatened by academic research, with profound implications for public access to and understanding of science. This case study examines journalist's responses to rhetorical claims in one such controversy. Facing research findings that an explosion of industrial hog farms in North Carolina showed disproportionate siting of these facilities in poor African-American communities, and that neighbors of mega-farms reported increased health problems, industry attacked the research as politically motivated "pseudo-science" and mobilized legal and political threats against the researcher, his community partners, and his university. Our findings offer fresh insight into how and why reporters respond to the strategic ignorance claims of actors who seek to discredit threatening science. In so doing, they contribute to growing scholarship on journalists' role in the social construction of ignorance.

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