Saturday, November 27, 2010

Could be good

A reporter has sent me a couple of questions about my review article. It hasn’t come out yet, but the Royal Society makes these things available to reporters on condition that news stories not come out before the actual article does. So anyway, I have somewhat mixed feelings about this particular email. I have written in the past about my low opinion of the general state of science journalism. The journalists generally fail to understand the science, oversimplify that misunderstanding to make it accessible, add in unrelated stuff to make it interesting and then compress it all into a few hundred words. The resulting news article is often nearly pure misinformation. I should say here that when the NYTimes covered a previous paper of mine, it was pretty well done, and some science news outlets are of course better than others, and this particular reporter is from one of my favorites, which gives me considerable confidence. The content of the questions did not. They gave me the distinct feeling that the reporter either hadn’t read, or hadn’t understood the article. He said in his email that he had read it, so that leaves the possibilities that he hadn’t understood, or that he was trying to provoke quotable explanations by pretending not to understand.

If he ends up writing about my work it will bring my mother great bragging points with her cousins whether he gets it right or not, but I would be greatly annoyed if he slaughters it.

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