IRG2-15: Framing Nanotechnology in the Media



Given the powerful effects the media can have on public opinion, how nanotechnology is discussed in the media can shape considerably the attitudes the public has about nanotechnology. However, it is not clear how much of an effect the media has on domains such as nanotechnology and other emerging issues, which are often outside the day-to-day life of the average person. Additionally, changes in the media environment, including the proliferation of new sources as well as the ensuing fragmentation of the audience and the rise of social media, may further limit media effects.

The goal of this study is to measure the relationship between the media and the public as it relates to nanotechnology. It does this through an analysis of media and public attention to nanotechnology. Furthermore, it aims to characterize these responses in terms of their support or opposition of the technology as well as the knowledge level exhibited by the response. It will begin by collecting media data on nanotechnology from newspapers, online news and blogs, and broadcast news, and analyzing public attention given to nanotechnology from Twitter as well as pre-existing opinion surveys. The overall aim is to analyze frame propagation across media segments.

To date, we have collected news data on nanotechnology, including broadcast transcripts and newspaper articles that discuss nanotechnology and related terms. These data extends to 1998, just before discussion of the NNI began. We have begun acquiring data on social media. After contacting several providers, we are currently in negotiation with Crimson Hexagon, which offers searchable data from Twitter, blogs, prominent websites, and discussion forums. We expect to have this data by the end of the quarter and begin analysis in the Summer.