IODP Expedition 360; analyzing the media coverage of a high profile research project

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Author(s): Kavanagh, Lucas; Martinez, Alejandra Olivia; Burgio, Marion; Zhang Jiansong
International Ocean Discovery Program, Expedition 360 Scientists, College Station, TX
Author Affiliation(s): Primary:
McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada
Eagle Pass Independent School District, United States
Xinhua News Agency, China
Volume Title: AGU 2016 fall meeting
Source: American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Vol.2016; American Geophysical Union 2016 fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 12-16, 2016. Publisher: American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States
Note: In English
Summary: During Expedition 360 of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), the JOIDES Resolution drilled 789 meters of lower crustal gabbro in the Southwest Indian Ocean. This hole began a multi-expedition project with the goal of one day drilling across the crust-mantle boundary for the first time. This simplified narrative of the research objectives struck a chord with media and the project received worldwide coverage in the form of over 50 stories with a total audience in the millions. This expedition is presented as a case study in science communication. A four-member education and outreach team onboard the ship acted as the point of contact for interested reporters. Major outlets that ran stories include the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, British Broadcasting Corporation, Boston Globe, Daily Express, Fox News, Nature, Smithsonian, and Chinese based Xinhua News Agency who sailed a reporter on the ship for the duration of the expedition. The majority of stories published provided accurate and favourable coverage of the project; however, a few contained critical errors and cast the expedition in a less positive light. Public reaction varied greatly depending on the article. Positive themes include interest in the scientific outcomes and encouragement of human exploration. Negative themes include the project being an inefficient use of money and a perceived risk of the drilling triggering an earthquake or volcano. Through a review of published articles and online comments, the successes and challenges faced by Expedition 360 are identified. Despite minimal preparation for media relations, the team successfully maintained a public profile while working in one of the most remote locations on Earth. Interviews were facilitated and videos, articles, and podcasts were produced onboard the ship. A simple, catchy narrative resulted in a large volume of coverage; however, this simplicity also formed the root of a number of misconceptions and issues of public concern.
Year of Publication: 2016
Research Program: IODP2 International Ocean Discovery Program
Key Words: 07 Marine Geology and Oceanography; Education; Expedition 360; Indian Ocean; International Ocean Discovery Program; JOIDES; Public awareness; SloMo; Southwest Indian Ridge
Coordinates: S324225 S324220 E0571645 E0571635
Record ID: 2017079947
Copyright Information: GeoRef, Copyright 2019 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by, and/or abstract, Copyright, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States