The fourth series of debates on science journalism met on this occasion to discuss an unpublished study on coverage of scientific news by the major Spanish television networks. Paul Francescutti, director of the studyScientific Information in the News, conducted by the Group for Advanced Study of Communication at the King Juan Carlos University and sponsored by the Esteve Foundation, was responsible for presenting some of the results for discussion.

Among the most alarming findings, the scarcity of scientific news in Spanish prime time newscasts was noted. After looking at all news coverage on TVE1, Antena 3, Telecinco and Cuatro over a period of one year, the study has been able to determine for the first time that science occupies only 1.1% of the news coverage. But its relevance is also as scarce as it presence, as only one in six items relating to scientific news relates to progress in science.

Why does science play only a testimonial part in Spanish news coverage? What subjects pass the news filter? What are journalists’ most frequent sources? On November 6, 2009, the Esteve Foundation gathered together four scientists and four journalists to discuss the results of the study led by Francescutti. The conclusions of the fourth debate on science journalism, first held in Madrid, will be part of a future Esteve Foundation publication, along with the research conducted by the King Juan Carlos University.

The scientific field was represented at the meeting by José Elguero,Institute of Medical Chemistry of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC); Antonio Hernando, director of the Institute of Applied Magnetics;Ignasi Ribas, researcher of Astrophysics at CSIC; and Antoni Trilla from the Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology department at Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

The journalism field was represented by Graziella Almendral, former editor of Antena 3 News and now working for Indagando TV, an Internet TV channel devoted entirely to science; Antonio Calvo Roy, president of theSpanish Association for Scientific CommunicationIgnacio Fernández Bayo, director of Divulga SL, a company that promotes science; and Jose Maria Montero, director of the environmental programme Espacio Protegido on Canal Sur 2.