Your Thoughts On A Science-Media Sit-Down

In about a month I’m heading to Colorado for the “Science and Media Summit” at the Aspen Science Center. The name may conjure up an image in your mind of a long table with diplomats from Science on one side and Media on the other, tensely negotiationg an end to some sort of bloodshed. As I understand it, though, the meeting should be much more amicable and interesting. The subtitle for the meeting is “Getting It Right: Science and the Media in the Emerging Media Landscape.” Our mission will be to come up with a blueprint for good reporting on science in the age of blogs, YouTube, and implanted science magazine brain chips (D’oh! I accidentally revealed my sinister plot.)

The line-up is daunting–Pulitzer Prize winners to the left, former directors of the National Science Foundation to the right. But I have a secret weapon. No, not the brain chips. I deny ever saying anything about brain chips. I’m talking about you, my loyal and perspicacious readers. As far as I can tell, I will be one of only two bloggers at the summit (the other is Mike Lemonick at Time). So let us pool our collective wisdom about these matters. As the media evolve into a strange new beast, what’s the best way to ensure that people get an accurate picture of science, and that they don’t get fed hogwash? How can people be sure they’re getting information based on real authority, rather than something hatched in a PR office? Share your thoughts in the comment thread here.

I won’t be surprised to hear a lot of harsh criticisms of the media. Astringent blogging about bad science writing is unquestionably good medicine. But there’s a limit to what simply complaining can accomplish. I think we need to balance destruction with creation–with constructive suggestions for shaping the new relationship of the media and science.

Update 5/29 10:30 am: It’s great to see the comments already flowing in. But reading the early responses, I realize I should clarify my request. Most of the suggestions so far would have been relevant 30 years ago. What can we do to improve the situation with the web 2.0 that couldn’t be done with newsprint?