Friday, January 18, 2008

Meager News Coverage of Stem Cell Lab Grants

News coverage of this week's $262 million stem cell lab jackpot was very light with only three articles appearing in what is generally considered to be the mainstream media.

One of the pieces was written by yours truly for Wired News (although it may not be considered "mainstream"). Terri Somers of the San Diego Union-Tribune focused on the $50 million bid by the San Diego stem cell consortium, which consists of UC San Diego and the Scripps, Salk and Burnham institutes. The San Jose Business Journal carried a brief item that was a rewrite of the CIRM news release.

No reporters from the mainstream media appeared to be present for the Burlingame meeting of the CIRM Oversight Committee at which the lab grant applications were considered, a coverage trend that is likely to continue this year.

That's a mixed blessing for CIRM. Excessive media attention can lead to stories about the agency's warts. On the other hand, not enough makes it difficult for CIRM to deliver its message and build support for stem cell research.

Declining and meager coverage reflects several realities. The novelty of Prop. 71 has virtually vanished in the eyes of most editors and reporters, who generally don't cover most state agencies with any regularity. Newspapers are also laying off staff. Their budgets are hard-pressed because of declining advertising revenue and the need this year to finance coverage, at least at larger papers, of the presidential campaign and the Olympics in China.

Barring a major scandal, we are likely to see minimal coverage of CIRM this year with a minor blip for the awarding of the lab grants, which will come this spring. That event was scheduled for April 23-24 but CIRM is now considering moving it to May because of the crunch of meetings scheduled for April.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:29 AM

    $262 million, that's a very big jackpot!!!


Search This Blog