DOI: 10.1093/eep/dvaa015; PMCID: PMC7673471
Given the public interest in epigenetic science, this study aimed to better understand media representations of epigenetics in national newspaper coverage in various regions in North America, Europe, and Asia. Content analysis was used to study media messages about epigenetics, their policy focus, and the balance of the reporting. We identified several recurring themes in the news reports, including policy messages relating to individual and societal responsibilities. We also found shortcomings in the media's portrayal of epigenetic science, and sought to identify potential causes by considering the underlying scientific evidence that the media reported on. A case study analysis showed that the results of epigenetic studies were often overstated in academic research publications due to common experimental limitations. We suggest that defining standardized criteria with which to evaluate epigenetic studies could help to overcome some of the challenges inherent in translating complex epigenetic research findings for non-technical audiences, and present a Press Kit template that researchers can adapt and use to aid in the development of accurate and balanced press releases.
epigenetics; public understanding of science; science communication
Dyke, S. O., Ennis, C. A., Joly, Y., Walter, J., Siebert, R., Pastinen, T. Communicating science: epigenetics in the spotlight. Environ Epigenet 6, 015-015 (2020).