SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY
The Unwritten Rules of Journalism
In the same way that many children naively assume adults are infallible, I grew up with the fantasy that anything in print must be true. This created some logical conundrums in the supermarket checkout aisle, where I'd see the Weekly World News and wonder, "But if aliens haven't abducted Elvis, how can they print it?"
I mean, if journalists don't hold themselves to standards of accuracy, why would they take the trouble to print an Errata column for the few minutiae they happened to miss? "In last week's issue," such a column would say, "we mistakenly identified the smiling man in the photograph as Nathan Daniels of Ballwin, Missouri. In fact, while he is indeed Nathan Daniels of Ballwin, Missouri, what we called a smile is more of a tempered grin. We sincerely regret the error."
If that's the kind of error a newspaper regrets--and sincerely, no less--surely the major facts behind any story are watertight.
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PODCAST & VIDEO: Engineering Around Extreme Events
Extreme events, such as super floods and hurricanes, are becoming more common, so civil engineers are trying to adapt civil infrastructure such as bridges to these unpredictable and sometimes devastating meteorological events. Engineer Ana Barros discusses how engineering can prepare us for extreme weather events, but also how changing climate and population conditions can affect the ability of infrastructure to hold up over time.
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