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  4. Are there really two sides to every story for science journalists?

Mar

25

Tuesday

Are there really two sides to every story for science journalists?

6.30pm

Panel Discussions

Public, Staff, Students, Alumni, Prospective Postgraduates, Prospective Undergraduates, Academics

Open to all and free to attend

Speakers: Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre (Chair), Ceri Thomas - BBC Head of News Programmes, Bob Ward – Policy and Research Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, Michael Hanlon – Science writer and author, former science editor of the Daily Mail

Free to attend, book a place via the Press Gazette event listing

For some scientists, having Lord Lawson on the Today Programme to argue against the existence of man-made climate change is akin to having a flat-earther on to argue against the proposition that the world is round. They argue that on some issues the weight of scientific opinion is so strong that journalists are seeking to create 'false balance'.
Many mainstream scientists think journalists are also wrong to seek opposing views on subjects like homeopathy (most scientists don't think it works) and the MMR vaccine (most scientists don't think there is any link with autism).

To find out whether there really aren't two sides to every story Press Gazette has teamed up with City University in London to host a special one-off debate. Chaired by Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre it will ask whether it is time for journalists to rewrite the ethical rulebook and simply acknowledge a few scientific truths.

Among the panelists are broadcaster and geneticist Professor Steve Jones who published a report for the BBC Trust in 2011 in which he argued that the corporation gave too much weight to fringe scientific viewpoints on subjects such as climate change, GM crops and MMR.

The panelists are:

Ceri Thomas - BBC head of news programmes
Bob Ward - Policy and research director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change
Michael Hanlon - Science writer and author, former science editor of the Daily Mail

Fiona Fox said: "I think many now agree that the hallowed principle of 'journalistic balance' is problematic when it comes to science and no one has made that point more than me. But I also think we have to be careful about where lines are drawn. Reporting climate change or GM crops as if there is a 50/50 split in science is misleading, inaccurate and poor journalism. But that does not mean that media debates about these controversies should be monopolised by scientists to the exclusion of other voices. I have agreed to Chair this debate because I genuinely sit somewhere in the middle and think this panel guarantees a thoughtful, grown up discussion between speakers who care passionately about getting this right."

After the discussion there will be complimentary networking drinks courtesy of City University Journalism Department

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When & where

6.30pm - 8.00pmTuesday 25th March 2014

Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre Tait Building City, University of London 10 Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom