“I think the media have figured out how to be as excited as scientists are when scientists make an exciting discovery,” says Neil deGrasse Tyson. In an interview with CJR Observatory editor Curtis Brainard, the popular astrophysicist discusses coverage of the Higgs boson and NASA’s Curiosity rover, as well as the new primacy of science journalism. The health of modern society requires “informed judgment and informed leadership” at the front lines of science, says Tyson. “The news media are fundamental players in this.”
Science reporters must lucidly cover critical discoveries, as well as show appropriate skepticism. In his enterprising essay, “Survival of the Wrongest,” David Freedman examines how accurate reporting might magnify inaccurate findings.
“Even while following what are considered to be the guidelines of good science reporting,” Freedman argues, many journalists “still manage to write articles that grossly mislead the public.”
However, as Carl Sagan might remind us, “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” That line is tattooed on the torso of Huffington Post’s Cara Santa Maria, host of “Talk Nerdy to Me.” As Fred Schruers puts it in his profile, Santa Maria is that all-too-rare and necessary science journalist who strikes “a balance between substantive and scintillating, as a way to make science interesting and relevant to the masses.”
Alongside “Microcosms in Science Journalism,” the latest CJR also includes:
• Border crossing: Five correspondents survey the perils of foreign reporting in Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Turkey, Mexico, and North Korea.
• Darts & Laurels 2012: The CJR staff holds reporters to their resolutions with a two-page spread of last year’s most notable coverage and most unforgettable errors.