John Rennie: Good science journalism can save kittens from drowning

Former Scientific American editor and now freelance science writer John Rennie visited us in Madison this week.  The journalism program was clearly excited, he spoke to three of my classes this week. Today, his talk focused on science and controversy, and how the hell a well meaning journalist should try to navigate.

Rennie explained the problems with the traditional journalistic style of balance with a succinct example. Let’s say there’s one person over here who wants to drown 100 kittens.  That’s pretty extreme.  Then, let’s say that there’s another person over on the other side who doesn’t want to drown any kittens. That’s obviously the other extreme.  So the best answer must be to meet in the middle, and drown only about 50 kittens, right?

This Kitten would prefer not to drown. Good science journalism can save her! Source: nicsuzor, CC BY-SA 2.0, via flickr

Continue reading