I’m excited to announce that our chapter — “News Coverage of Cancer Research: Does Disclosure of Scientific Uncertainty Enhance Credibility?” — was published in the 2018 Routledge book Risk and Health Communication in an Evolving Media Environment.
The study examines whether certain practices in journalism could be systematically lowering public perceptions of credibility with regard to cancer research reports. Though likely unintentional, this could lead to biased processing and, potentially, dismissal of health information that is important in helping the public avoid health risks.
The study was modeled on a prior experiment by Jensen (2008), which found a link between disclosure of scientific uncertainty attributed to the primary scientist, and increased trustworthiness ratings for both the journalist and the primary scientist.
The prior results were partially replicated in this study, where fuller uncertainty disclosure led to higher credibility ratings for journalists.
What we don’t yet know is why this would be the case. Are news consumers getting savvier about how to interpret media reports of scientific research? That’s what I aim to answer with my next study, which will take a mixed methods approach to examining how the public evaluates science news.
And here’s a recent review of the Routledge volume by Yotam Ophir in the European Journal of Communication.