Today I was given a great insight into how the science department at the BBC works by Rachel Kerr who is the head of science communication in the North East.
One of the most surprising points about today’s lecture was the background of most people in science journalism. Rachel had an arts based education and this is apparently very typical. I wonder if this could be a reason for a lot of the science miscommunication in the media?
Throughout the BBC there is a policy to stay impartial about the information given out which leads to their articles being very fact based and informative. This in a way protects the BBC from any major blunders as they don’t express an opinion but they have still undergone criticism for being factually incorrect by websites such as http://wattsupwiththat.com/ who have pulled up several major news companies for bad science.
It would be interesting to see if more scientific journalists had an academic science back ground less blunders would be made. If this was the case more journalists would be able to understand the background research to ground breaking stories and may even read the original paper to see if they can find holes in trials and techniques.
A greater scientific understanding in journalism may even be able to stop very damaging incorrect science getting out, such as the study that claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism, which is still having negative effects today.