Accurate reporting of scientific discoveries is important. Barriers for journalists in writing quality articles about science are complex. Communication issues arise in the translation process from scientific publications to press releases to media reporting. Using a case study, this research sought to investigate this translation process by comparing a scientific publication with the press release and the media reporting.
A case study was chosen which included a scientific publication, the corresponding press release and subsequent 65 news articles. A coding framework was developed to compare the accuracy and sufficiency of information in the scientific publication, the press release and the news articles.
Findings included the following issues with the press release and news reporting:
• Spin and buzz words were present.
• The study design was not clearly described.
• There was limited independent expert commentary and limited use of balanced framing.
• There was minimal acknowledgement that the research findings could not be translated into clinical recommendations until further research has been undertaken and there were misleading, inaccurate and harmful recommendations about vitamin supplementation.
Media reporting of scientific research can impact human health. Therefore, it is important that media coverage of scientific research is clear, balanced and accurate. This study highlights that communication issues arise at various stages of the information translation process. Additionally, this study indicates that further research is necessary to understand and improve the information translation process of scientific research in media.
Georgia Dempster, PhD candidate, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
Georgina Sutherland, Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
Louise Keogh, Associate Professor, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
When: In session Wednesday 19th February, 11:00am–12:50pm