Minister praises 'high standard' of science journalism

The minister for science and innovation, Lord Drayson, has praised the high standard of science journalism at an industry conference.

Speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists in London yesterday, Drayson defended the work of science and health correspondents in their coverage of issues such as swine flu.

He dismissed claims that science reporting only results in sensationalist and misleading headlines, and said journalists provided an important bridge between scientists and the public and helped people make informed choices about their lives.

Drayson told the conference: “People rely on dependable science journalism to make important choices: for themselves and their families, for their country.

“These are choices which affect their health, their jobs, their overall quality of life and their future.

“Where science correspondents are centre stage and when they have access to scientists, then science coverage in Britain is of a very high standard.”

Another speaker at yesterday’s event was John Martin, one of the world’s leading heart disease experts, who has compared the UK’s science journalists ‘to the greedy bankers who sparked the economic meltdown”.

But Drayson said journalists had learned lessons from the coverage of controversial science issues such as the GM debate and the MMR vaccine.

And he singled out the coverage of swine flu as an example of high standards, saying journalists provided a balanced picture of the risks and how the UK would tackle the threat.

About 900 delegates attended the sixth World Conference of Science Journalists this week, at Central Hall in Westminster, bringing together reporters from around the world.

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