How much does the way you cover a study matter? If we judge that question on the basis of how your coverage might influence a reader’s opinion about a treatment’s benefit, it matters quite a bit, suggest the results of a recent study in BMC Medicine that examined spin in news stories about clinical studies.
In short, news articles that included spin in their coverage of a study about a particular treatment were more likely to leave readers with a positive impression of the treatment’s benefit.
Every journalist covering medical and other types of scientific research should read this thought-provoking open-access article recently published in PNAS: “Crisis or self-correction: Rethinking media narrative about the well-being of science.”
This piece by Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the best articles I’ve read about how to think about the big picture in our coverage of medicine and science and the public perception of media narratives about science. It’s one of those rare, important writings whose entire purpose is to examine the nuance that’s missing – yet essential – in the majority of science and medicine coverage. Continue reading