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Maverick Science and Journalism

How do journalists communicate the nature of controversy among scientists to their readers, viewers, and listeners? Is the journalistic function primarily one of translation, in which journalists attempt to mirror a scientific controversy but in simpler terms for a general audience? This is a common argument of journalists, that they are “just reporting the facts.” Or is the journalistic function more of transformation, in which journalists pay less attention to accurately representing the balance of scientific opinion and more attention to criteria that may heighten the news-worthiness of a scientific controversy? The latter journalistic function of transforming a scientific controversy into a story that is more newsworthy for a general audience is interesting because when science plays a large role in the story, such ...

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