You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Science reporting compromised: Gluckman

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/11/2016

The media's reporting of science has been compromised by decreasing budgets and the need to cater to audiences that see news as entertainment, Sir Peter Gluckman says.

The prime minister's chief science adviser has just published the second paper in a series he's writing about risk management.

It deals with the way people perceive risks, and how that can affect decision-making.

Sir Peter says when risk relates to complex - and often poorly communicated - science and technology, people depend on news and social media for information.

"Public risk perception depends far more on what is portrayed via television, the radio, the internet and social media than it does on expert opinion," he says.

"Media can be a very effective tool to increase awareness of hazards and risks, but at times it can also disseminate incorrect or biased information."

Sir Peters says it's critical that the media addresses the scientific validity of claims they publish, but in that respect coverage is often inadequate and stories are presented based on preliminary evidence as if the data were conclusive.

"Decreasing budgets for science journalism, compounded by a need to cater to audiences that see news as a form of entertainment, further compromise the quality of coverage," he says.

"Vivid or horrific incidents are more likely to be aired than other less gruesome but more common accidents or harmful events.

"Similarly, rare but catastrophic technological failures are reported more frequently than the everyday benefits these technologies bring."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon