Scientific reporting in the popular media

Reporting of science in popular media such as newspapers and magazines is, in general, of dubious quality.  Journalists that report on science, it appears, need no understanding of science.  Causation and correlation; statistical significance and knowing something for certain; hype and expectation: in the minds of many journalists, these appear to be equivalent.  Can we blame them, though?  Even if a scientist’s work is faithfully reported, can we expect readers to keep these things separate?  Probably not, but the blame can then be placed on science education and perhaps a lack of space for an article.  Approaching an article on the effectiveness of the suicide barrier on the Bloor Viaduct in the on-line version of the Globe and Mail with my low expectations, I was very pleasantly surprised to find an embedded copy of the original report.  Kudos to the author, Anna Mehler Paperny, and kudos to the Globe.  I hope more organizations learn from this example.

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