From Heather Zeiger at MercatorNet:
Politics is not the only place to look for ‘fake news”
Jason Young, the US Food and Drug Administration’s acting assistant commissioner for media affairs, made sure before leaving that the agency will no longer use “close-hold embargoes.” This is a practice under which reporters are given advance access to news on the condition that they not seek outside perspective until the embargo is lifted. The revelation that the FDA had been spinning the news created a minor scandal late last year.
The FDA was outed in articles in Scientific American and the New York Times for going against their own stated policy of not allowing close-hold embargoes. The Association of Health Care Journalists worked to bring the FDA to account.
While accusations of fake news may be overblown, it is important for news consumers to understand how news can be manipulated. It happens – even in science.
According to the Scientific American article, the FDA has, on several occasions, offered select big-name media outlets an invitation to an exclusive briefing as long as the journalists agreed to only interview sources selected by the FDA. (Notably, Scientific American was left out of the particular briefing that got the FDA in trouble.) More.
Well, that’s what happens when we don’t invite the Thirteenth Fairy, right? Thank heaven for her.
See also: Embargoes: The uniquack approach to science writing
How the U.S. Food and Drug Administration controls science stories
Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature
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