EDITORIAL

Nip misinformation in the bud

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Science  27 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6362, pp. 427
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar2683

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Summary

The democratization of journalism through crowd sourcing, blogging, and social media has proven to be a sharp, double-edged sword. The internet has vastly expanded the sourcing of news and information, capturing stories that might otherwise go untold and delivering a diversity of perspectives that no single media outlet could hope to offer. At the same time, this new and open model has given anyone with web access a global platform to propagate information that is mistakenly or intentionally false. This is especially problematic when it comes to scientific information, which is critical to rational policy-making in areas like health, environmental protection, and national security, and at its best is often misinterpreted by the lay public. Yet recent years have seen a reduction in specialized science pages and reporters in the nation's newsrooms in favor of reliance on general assignment staffers, even as deadlines have grown shorter—reducing opportunities to ensure accuracy and clarity before publication.