Thursday 10/01/2013 12:18
Category: Science & Engineering

2 Replies


The media just don't get science!

Editor Rant image

The media in the UK simply do not understand science or engineering. Our lives and the world have been transformed by developments in science and engineering, and nearly always for the better. The rate at which this transformation is happening is astounding and accelerating every year. Human achievement in this area is magnificent, something we should be truly proud of. But our media are staffed and managed by people with largely humanities backgrounds who have little understanding of, or interest in, science (there are a few worthy exceptions, but not many!) This means that when really important breakthroughs are reported (if they are reported at all) the reporting is usually muddled and simplistic. Key explanations are skipped, findings are exaggerated or misinterpreted, the audience is assumed to be stupid, and we get unrelated library shots of test tubes, lab coats (see the attached image for example!), DNA molecules, centrifuges... Based on current media coverage, you would hardly think any science was going on today.

It's not just the television journalists at fault, the same terrible examples of scientific ignorance abound in the print media and on radio. Without science and engineering we could not sustain anything like the quality of life we enjoy. Our media have a responsibility to improve the quality and quantity of their reporting of this vital and exciting area. Media management need to start recruiting people who understand science and are capable of communicating it effectively. This would also excite the interest of more young people to become engaged in science and engineering, and we desparately need them to help solve some of the world's real problems.

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Scientists have to pull their weight too and be better at communicating their ideas, but I still place most the blame with the media who could mangle even the most concise scientific point.
Yes, I agree, although poor communications skills don't seem to hold many artists back!

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