In my opinion, it makes sense for reporters to do their best to accurately portray where the scientific consensus is around an issue. For example in the case of climate change, there is almost no disagreement among the world’s leading climate researchers that human activity is causing the planet to warm. So in this case reporters should feel comfortable saying that according to the best scientific evidence, the world is warming and human activity is the cause.
Taking climate change as an example, if the issue revolves around the understanding of extremely complex science, journalism should reflect the views of those who are actually experts -scientists trained in the appropriate discipline, not industry talking heads. In addition, if there is a consensus in peer-reviewed scientific journalism on the matter -as is the case with climate change- it is dishonest of journalism to portray the issue as if there is some sort of “debate” among experts.
This is a really great question. I think news outlets should hold themselves to high ethical standards – which means not trusting illegitimate sources, such as those scientists sponsored by political parties or lobbyists. There is a difference between sound science and that which is molded and created to fit into the political platform of a given party. Although news outlets must maintain an unbias stance towards issues (or at least, that’s what they purport to do), I agree that there is a line between “showing both sides of the story” and simply appeasing an illegitimate political faction. So if you happen to be talking about global warming, for example, then I believe now is the time to stop risking the well-being of life on earth to appease a few political bullies.
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