The Guardian newspaper is way ahead of the rest of the UK media when it comes to science reporting. They actually publish science articles written by real scientists who have a real understanding of what they are talking about. It's quite simple really. Newspapers wouldn't employ someone who isn't an expert in finance to fill out their Finance sections - so why do they feel that it is OK to get any Tom, Dick or Harry to cover a big science story? Newspapers like science stories (especially health related ones) because the resonate with a large majority of people - so why not spend just a little more time doing it properly? I am pretty sure I can speak for a lot of people when I say that everyone is sick to death of the 'Meat/Bananas/Talcum powder cause cancer' stories.
The latest idea from the Guardian is for a 'Story Tracker' . This week an article on Autism was published in Nature, the Guardian ran an article about the paper and now they have set up a way of tracking how the story is covered across the world - http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2010/jun/09/science-story-trackers#start-of-comments.
When a science news story appears in the media, I always try and track it back to where it came from - quite often there is no actual published data and the story comes from a press release (see my Walnuts and Prostate Cancer blog). This method of story tracking - along with Nature making the paper free for everyone to see allows transparency in the system. No research is perfect - ever. There are always limitations and people will always have different views on how good the research is - how it can be used and what benefits it may have in the future. The 'story tracker' allows people with a good knowledge of science to easily read all the articles published by the media of the paper and can also read the paper to make their own mind up. It also allows an interested person with maybe less of an understanding to easily read all of the information - from this they can form opinions, rather than being limited by reading one or two articles on the subject (which could be misinformed).
So, all in all a great idea. I have already emailed in 4 articles I found on US websites about the research. I hope this trial is a success and something like this becomes common place with science reporting!