Covering specialised subjects in a general newsroom is a challenge in a world awash with misinformation. The problem is particularly acute around highly- shareable digital information around science, health and consumer affairs. A new report from the World Editors Forum unpacks the problem facing newsrooms and journalists - and offers some solutions.
In the Nieman Lab predictions for 2019, philanthropist Craig Newmark's offering caught my eye:
"Disinformation and fraud will continue to persist, but we’re going to see organizations fight back by injecting more trust in the news. This is mission-critical."
The fightback must go beyond political information, to all that we publish - including high traffic, shareable stories that affect readers and the way they chose to live their lives. I am talking about matters of health, science and consumer affairs where close attention to verification of facts is often absent, particularly in newsrooms that have had to pare back specialist skills. Where specialist skills are present, tension often arises between the information the specialist publishes and what might find its way into the public domain when their back is turned.
As a precursor to focusing on this challenge in 2019, the World Editors Forum asked verification expert and journalist trainer Fergus Bell, to gather a group of science reporters for a workshop, to unpack the problems and map out possible solutions.
The result is the highly readable Science in the Newsroom report, a must read for anyone looking to improve the standard of reporting in 2019 and their newsroom processes.
Science in the NewsroomThe report is free and can be downloaded here.