Ben Goldacre has a piece on media coverage of health and medical research.
1. Mostly, press coverage is pretty poor.
He cites a US study
“After almost two years and 500 stories, the project has found that journalists usually fail to discuss costs, the quality of the evidence, the existence of alternative options, and the absolute magnitude of potential benefits and harms.” (Schwitzer, 2008 )
2. It affects people’s behaviour. (Kylie Minogue public health effect)
3. It affects scientists. “if a study was covered by The New York Times it was significantly more likely to be cited by other academic papers.”
Read the Bad Science column in The Guardian edition. No links, no comments *: the print version to read on screen.
Now, read the same column in Ben’s Bad Science blog. Referenced and linked. Easy to look up the Schwitzer article and other sources he cites. There is also a debate in the comments to his post which manages to remain largely on topic for more than 20 entries and includes some useful sources.
Comments remain largely on topic for more than 20 entries. How often does that happen? In itself, a blogosphere phenomenon worthy of study.
[ * Correction: about 200 comments. My mistake. But lots of them are completely off topic.]
How Do US Journalists Cover Treatments, Tests, Products, and Procedures? An Evaluation of 500 Stories
PLoS Med Gary Schwitzer article
Public Library of Science