New tool for correcting news articles

Accurate critical writing about scientific subjects, like rocket science, brain surgery and climate change, can be difficult. The subjects are not simple and don’t lend themselves to the sorts of generalisations that sell newspapers and generate clicks online.

There are countless examples of eureka moments when an anti climate change journalist thinks it’s found a crack in the scientific community’s arguments and can therefore single-handedly bring down the entire conspiracy. These are often misunderstandings of counterintuitive theories, or indeed valid errors in the science*. For the latter, there is a very robust mechanism for repairing the error, healing the scientific consensus and moving on (peer review / updated publications etc).

Outside of the scientific publication community though – it’s been difficult to get a right of reply when a newspaper has mutilated a delicately crafted paper and simply inferred wrong information … until now!

climatefeedback.org has launched a tool for correcting news articles by allowing scientists to annotate media articles. And what’s more – it works! The Telegraph updated an article following feedback from the system.

Now if only ipso would force these corrections to have due prominence in their Code of Practice.

 

* Errors happen from time to time. To assume that the entire body of science is wrong because of one incorrect statement would be a fallacy of composition. If this level of rigour were applied to the the media, then the whole industry would shut down in a microsecond.