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Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics

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ESEP 9:pp3 (2009)  -   doi: 10.3354/esep00098

Advocates, adversaries, and adjuncts: the ethics of international science journalism from a US perspective

James Cornell*

International Science Writers Association,6666 North Mesa View Drive, Tucson, Arizona 85718-2526, USA

ABSTRACT: The traditional image of journalists as adversaries of the establishment is sometimes blurred by the complex relationship between reporters and scientists, particularly in developing countries where advancing science and technology is seen as essential to economic growth, and journalists, intentionally or not, may become advocates for this national goal. The changing nature of media technology, coupled with intense market pressures, is further complicating the role of science journalists as many have become affiliated with research organizations: institutional adjuncts providing information directly to the public. While it is difficult to develop a single set of ethical standards that can be applied globally—or that can address the new realities of modern science communication—existing models suggest that peer pressure can be an effective method of policing journalistic misconduct, even on an international scale.

KEY WORDS:Science journalism · Advocacy journalism · Ethical standards · International communication · Media

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ESEP THEME SECTION: The ethics of science journalism