While writing that last post, I was getting increasingly frustrated with the way that science is being reported in the media. Too often press releases are just regurgitated by various outlets without actually delving into the paper or the issue at hand. There is a great article by John Timmer about this exact issue as it pertained to the reporting of the findings of the ENCODE project.
Seth Mnookin notes that this year has been particularly tough for aficionados or practitioners of science writing. He offers a great overview of the state of science writing and journalism this past year. He summarizes,
One of our biggest stars was revealed as a fraud; publications that should be exemplars of nuanced, high-quality reporting are allowing confused speculation to clutter their pages; researchers and PIOs are nudging reporters towards overblown interpretations; and everything we write about will probably end up being wrong anyway — not that we’ll bother to let you know when the time comes.
The outlook seems pretty bleak, but fortunately there are some beacons of hope. Today Scientific American released its compilation of the Best Science Writing Online 2012. The collection includes pieces from some of my favourite science writers, journalists, and bloggers. While I haven’t read it yet I am sure it is filled with greatness. I encourage you to read the piece by Joe Hanson, (who blogs at It’s Okay to Be Smart), titled On Beards, Biology, and Being a Real American, then go out an order or buy the full book, and have your faith in good science writing restored.
- Scientists play a large role in bad medical reporting (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Who’s To Blame for Bad Science News Reporting (theness.com)
- Sensationalised medical reporting: scientists are adding to the problem (sciencemojo.wordpress.com)
- The Sorry State of Science Writing (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Science Through Story (jenami.wordpress.com)