At some point while growing up, most children are told that life is not fair. Communication scholars, too, can look to our field and see instances where fairness has become crucial due to concerns about its absence. Media historians can point to the emergence of the Federal Communication Commission’s Fairness Doctrine, mandating honest, equitable, and balanced coverage of political issues; those interested in the sociology of the news can point to the idea of fairness as a norm meant to guide journalists in their work. Fox News has co-opted the word “fairness” as the slogan for its conservative news channel, while the media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) criticizes the shift toward ideologyslanted programming that organizations like Fox create. While most individuals recognize the futility of expecting fair treatment in many aspects of their lives, they also view the fair treatment of citizens as essential to what makes the democratic process superior to other forms of decision making (Hibbing & Theiss-Morse, 2002). In political theory, Rawls (1971, 2001) uses the thought-experiment of a “veil of ignorance” as a means to encourage readers to contemplate how society might create governance procedures that ensure political justice. In this well-known idea, fairness is achieved by forcing participants to design a political system without knowledge of their eventual place in that system. According to Ryan (2006), Rawls’ theory has led to more than 2,000 follow-up books, articles, and other pieces of commentary. Similar, and perhaps most relevant to communication scholars, is the work of Habermas (e.g., Habermas, 1989) from whom many have drawn guidance in describing a normative ideal for the public sphere against which to compare contemporary politics (e.g., Norris, 2000; Scheufele & Nisbet, 2002). Habermas’ discussion of a hypothetical ideal speech situation serves as a means of assessing the quality of democratic processes in terms of the degree to which they are fairly and competently enacted. In addition to political philosophy, social theory has also shown a keen inter-

est in understanding the idea of fairness in how humans interact. For example, a recent issue of Social Research (Humphrey, 2006) was dedicated to the topic, some of which focused on the potential biological and evolutionary roots of fairness (de Waal, 2006). The core idea of this chapter is that fairness matters: it is a theoretically rich concept around which to build research and evaluation of any situation where citizens have direct or mediated communication with decision makers. This chapter begins with an outline of social psychological research on justice as fairness and a discussion of the relevance of this research tradition to science communication scholarship and practice. The discussion focuses on existing research on public participation and the concept of trust, arguing that both traditions draw on concepts related to justice without explicitly drawing on this body of research. It further argues that focusing research on known sub-dimensions of fairness-which include outcome or distributive fairness, procedural fairness, interpersonal fairness, and informational fairness-could enhance existing science communication research and evaluation efforts. To support this assertion, several specific science communication projects that have successfully integrated justice as fairness research into their design and provided meaningful results are presented.