Recently, the website Undark, whose publisher is science writer Deborah Blum, published an op-ed by an environmental activist who told lies and half-truths about the safety of glyphosate. This was particularly striking because the website’s editorial team and advisory board have several high-profile names in science journalism, and the site’s stated mission is “true journalistic coverage of the sciences.”
So he wrote to her. After some further business, she replied:
He now responds:
That’s a stunning admission from a journalist. In other words, because it’s an op-ed, facts don’t matter. Buzz off. Would her response be the same if Undark published an article questioning evolution, climate change, or vaccines? For the sake of the truth, let’s hope not. More.
One hesitates to press the point, but when facts don’t matter, they don’t. And Berezow can’t really hope to choose for others which facts that don’t matter are to be highlighted or ignored, any more than he can tell them how to choose toppings for their ice cream sundae.
Science media today are unusually bad for several reasons. One is self-importance. They defend “science” against its enemies, real and imagined. What scientists, like artists and athletes, need from media is well-informed constructive critics.
And here we are not even getting into paid partisanship…!
See also: Science writing in an age when we ran out of pom poms to wave