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Mass Media

The Observatory is now also a principal point of contact for astronomy amongst the mass media (press, radio and television), playing a major role in the promotion of astronomy and public understanding of science both locally (i.e. within Armagh City and District and Northern Ireland) and abroad. Astronomers at Armagh receive (and deal with) numerous questions from the general public, and are often invited by the national and international media to comment on recent research results or discoveries. These contacts frequently lead to articles or citations in the national and international press, and to sound-bites and media clips on radio and television.

The number of identified mentions of the Armagh Observatory and its staff in various mass-media has increased rapidly during the past few years, from about 10 in 1994 to more than 230 in 1999 and 2000. During 2000, the Observatory was noted in one or another of these mass media at least 231 times. The identified media mentions, which are a subset of the whole, are listed in Appendix E. Whilst many citations (about 30%) are in the local press (e.g. the Ulster Gazette, Armagh Observer etc.), some of which have among the highest local impact factors in the UK, a substantial number are on radio and television, in the national and international press, or in specialist and technical magazines.


Table 1: Breakdown of known media citations for 1999 and 2000. The 231 identified citations for 2000 include 12 reports in UK national newspapers (e.g. Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, and corresponding Sunday papers); 27 in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland national newspapers (e.g. Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, Newsletter, Irish Times, Irish Independent, Sunday Tribune); and 13 in UK local radio stations (e.g. Radio Ulster, Radio Foyle, Downtown Radio and others in Britain) and Republic of Ireland stations (RTE and local stations). The Observatory was featured 13 times on UK and Republic of Ireland national television news and documentary programmes (e.g. BBC1, BBC2, ITV3, ITV4, Channel 5, Sky, RTE), and 4 times on UK national radio (e.g. BBC Radio 4 Today and PM programmes, and Radio 5). The 3 known citations in foreign newspapers, and 6 and 1 respectively on foreign radio and television, are obviously extreme lower limits due to under-reporting.
     
Programme or Medium Identified Citations
  1999 2000
     
UK and Republic of Ireland local newspapers 71 81
UK national newspapers excluding Northern Ireland 30 12
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland national newspapers 18 27
Popular astronomy and specialist magazines 33 31
UK local radio and Republic of Ireland radio 22 23
UK national radio 9 4
UK and Republic of Ireland national television 14 13
Northern Ireland local television 6 9
Foreign newspapers 7 3
Foreign radio 3 6
Foreign television 2 1
Miscellaneous items 18 21


The breakdown of known media citations versus type of publication is shown in Table 1. Many of the newspapers and radio or television programmes that mention astronomy at Armagh reach millions of people simultaneously, and it is clear that many tens of millions of people must have been exposed to Armagh Observatory or its research during each of the last two years, a remarkable result.


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