BBC Ditches "False Balance"
Good science reporting requires having a working knowledge of science. For example, it is important to understand that not all ideas in science are equal. They are not simply a matter of opinion.Rather, the quality and amount of evidence holds sway.
Journalists, however, often cover political topics in which opinion and values are a major component, and so routinely apply the principle of balance to such reporting. Problems occur when they inappropriate apply the balance principle to scientific questions, giving false balance to fringe or minority opinions.
The BBC trust, recognizing this issue, has recently been training its journalists to avoid such false balance. Instead they should give scientific issues proportional representation. If 99% of the scientific community agrees with a certain position, you don’t need to find a fringe crank to represent the 1%.
The BBC has previously been criticized for false balance in covering issues such as climate change.
The Telegraph reports: “‘The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,’ wrote the report authors.”