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Embryonic Stem Cell Research, the Media, and the Public:
What Journalists Should Kow

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Sept. 18, 2007

Editor’s Note: ATTENTION assignment editors, please contact Professor Montague Kern at 732-932-7500, ext. 8163, or by e-mail at mkern@scils.rutgers.edu

What: A day of speakers and panel discussions addressing the interaction of scientists, the media and the public concerning stem cell research. This event is part of the Johnson & Johnson Blue Ribbon Health and Medical Speaker Series and one of several symposia planned to mark the 25th anniversary of Rutgers’ School of Communication, Information and Library Studies.

When: Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: The Scholarly Communication Center, fourth floor of the Alexander Library, 169 College Ave, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Who:

  • Martin Grumet, professor of cell biology at Rutgers and director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University
  • Patricia Morton, director of planning and development for the W.M. Keck Center and of the Spinal Cord Injury Project, an important undertaking at the Keck Center
  • Dietram A. Scheufele, professor and director of graduate studies, Department of Life Sciences Communication, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences; professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and coordinator, Communication Technologies Research Center, University of Wisconsin
  • Nicole Elise Smith, assistant professor of communication, Manship School of Communication, Louisiana State University
  • Ivan Oshansky, deputy editor of The Scientist
  • Sarah A. Webb, science journalist and contributor to Science Careers.org
  • John C. Pollock, professor of communication studies, The College of New Jersey

Background: Imagined risks and societal well-being are inseparable aspects debated in lay and expert discussions of embryonic stem cell research. And while media and political experts have long weighed in on the debate, voters will cast their ballots on the topic during a referendum held at the time of this fall’s New Jersey legislative elections. How do journalists presently cover embryonic stem cell research: as science, politics or a matter of ethical concern? What factors shape their coverage? How do citizens reach judgments in regard to the stem cell research debate? In what way are values, information, trust in science and government, and mass media important to them?

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