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Thursday, September 2nd - 11:30 AM To 12:00 PM

Beyond ‘fact check’: Challenges for reporting science in the ‘post truth’ world

English Track

Desciption

Objectivity, fairness and balance are the three critical classic buzzwords of journalism ethics. Objective journalism asks the journalists to eschew bias and present the story with a balance. Accuracy needs ‘fact check’ and balanced story demand presenting all sides of the story. Fairness implies that the journalist should strive for accuracy and truth in reporting and not lead the readers towards a reporter’s desired conclusion. Balanced reporting, by providing space for many voices and opinions, is imperative for the media to play the fourth estate’s role in democracy. However, in reporting science, ‘balance’ might skew into what critics call ‘false balance’, mainly when the reporter resorts to ‘He said/She said’ journalism.  There is genuine perplexment (as in the case of low case fatality ratio reported in India) and controversy (is SARS-CoV-2 is airborne or not) in our understanding of the pandemic. The question of proportion (post-vaccination adverse effects vis-a-vis protection it offers) and inadequate adherence to regulations (approvals of drugs and vaccines before the trial is completed) cannot be conflated.  This demand sensible, ethical, ‘balanced’ and ‘fair’ science reporting. When two opposing positions, one with an abundance of evidence and another entirely bereft of reasonable grounds, are treated as equally valid claims, the ‘balance’ is, in fact, skewed. Thus, good science reporting warrants a keen understanding of the scientific method and the role of evidence in making scientific claims. This talk would elucidate challenges for science reporting in the post-truth landscape drawing upon episodes from the COVID19 pandemic to illustrate. It will also elucidate the skills required to meet the challenges

Speakers

Venkateswaran Thathamangalam Viswanathan
Venkateswaran Thathamangalam Viswanathan

Scientist and Science writer, Vigyan Prasar

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Venkateswaran Thathamangalam Viswanathan
Venkateswaran Thathamangalam Viswanathan

Scientist and Science writer, Vigyan Prasar

Read More >
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