Science journalism may be under threat but scientists can still help ensure that reporting is informed and accurate, says an editorial in Nature.
Some scientists see the media as a public relations service to explain new science, shape public understanding and highlight a blooming research sector to politicians.
But journalism plays a more important role — in scrutinising, not just regurgitating, science — says the editorial. Science journalists in particular often understand the subject they are writing about and know who to contact to provide context and criticism.
Yet as readers and advertisers increasingly turn to the Internet for information, cash-strapped publications are ever more likely to see science journalists as "luxuries" they can't afford. Some people may even wonder whether this week's 6th World Conference of Science Journalists in London will mark the end of science journalism, says the editorial.
But while scientists can't stop the inevitable, the editorial argues, they can still engage with the media to ensure informed journalism. This includes helping journalists find the experts they need to report effectively and working with journalism schools to ensure that their programmes include some introduction to science and how it works.