Progress or PR? – SciDev.net recently published a “guide” for journalists on separating real progress from PR hype surrounding clinical trials. It’s a well-written and quite timely piece given the backlash against medical reporting in recent years. Unfortunately, this kind of advice is only ever taken by those already heeding it, they’re preaching to the converted in other words. No matter how hard such efforts try there is no way to prevent sensationalist, tabloid “news” papers from splashing their scurrilous headlines proclaiming the lethality of some entity or the wondrous benefits of a wonder drug. The journalists who write such items certainly know the difference between progress and PR and they milk it for all its worth to fulfil their editorial agendas regardless of whether or not the facts support their case. For excellent examples of the art check out the Mail and the Express, I don’t think either paper very often lets the facts get in the way of a good story (allegedly).
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