Reporting science and conflicts of interest in the lay press

PLoS One. 2007 Dec 5;2(12):e1266. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001266.

Abstract

Background: Forthright reporting of financial ties and conflicts of interest of researchers is associated with public trust in and esteem for the scientific enterprise.

Methods/principal findings: We searched Lexis/Nexis Academic News for the top news stories in science published in 2004 and 2005. We conducted a content analysis of 1152 newspaper stories. Funders of the research were identified in 38% of stories, financial ties of the researchers were reported in 11% of stories, and 5% reported financial ties of sources quoted. Of 73 stories not reporting on financial ties, 27% had financial ties publicly disclosed in scholarly journals.

Conclusions/significance: Because science journalists often did not report conflict of interest information, adherence to gold-standard recommendations for science journalism was low. Journalists work under many different constraints, but nonetheless news reports of scientific research were incomplete, potentially eroding public trust in science.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Conflict of Interest*
  • Publishing*
  • Science*