A newly-released study suggests university press releases are a key source of hyperbole seen in science stories in media, concluding that -
Exaggeration in news is strongly associated with exaggeration in press releases. Improving the accuracy of academic press releases could represent a key opportunity for reducing misleading health related news.
The study is now available to read* (and fortunately is open access) and is accompanied by an editorial by Ben Goldacre. Goldacre’s editorial points to several other studies of press releases, including another study published by the BMJ.
There is widespread commentary on this research in science communication circles (with no doubt more in coming days), including:
- The Power of a Press Release by Virginia Hughes, writing at National Geographic’s Discover blogs. (Some of the commentary after the article is worth reading too.)
- Bad science reporting blamed on exaggerations in university press releases by Steve Connor; The Independent (UK)
- Bad media releases to blame for media’s exaggerated reporting of health findings – experts respond; New Zealand Science Media Centre
One story relates how the authors of the research group came to study press releases as a consequence of a ‘media circus’ surrounding one of their own articles in Science and health news hype: where does it come from? (The Guardian, UK) -
Unfortunately, we made the novice mistake of issuing the press release about our research during the riots, prompting a media circus.