It may seem parochial on a day when I’ve been focusing on the terrible aftermath of the Haiti earthquake but I want to mention an excellent new report on science journalism in my blog this evening.
Science and the Media – Securing the Future was commissioned by Lord Drayson, the UK science minister, and written by an expert group chaired by Fiona Fox, director of the Science Media Centre.
The report draws on new research at Cardiff University about the health of science journalism in the UK, which is relatively reassuring.
But the expert group warns about the serious threat to the quality and independence of science reporting posed by the wider crisis in journalism. As it points out, the economic and institutional constraints under which journalists now operate have in many cases caused heavier workloads, less time to seek out stories and check facts, more reliance on a very limited pool of news sources, and an growing homogeneity in science coverage.
What is really impressive about the report is the array of new initiatives already inspired by the group’s activities. There are dozens – many of them awaiting funding but some ready to go.
These actions range from better training for scientists and journalists to the provision of new resources for science journalists (for example an independent service to analyse press releases for their balance and accuracy).
Anyone interested in science journalism should look at the report.