Lab Coats Don’t Make You Infallible (Oliver vs Hansen)

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Scientists who step into the political arena deserve to be challenged. This isn’t an attack on science – it’s an exploration of competing political perspectives.

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Those of us who’ve worked as professional journalists know the public doesn’t always understand media conventions. Many people, for example, don’t realize that the authors of news stories don’t write the headlines. That’s done by an editor sitting at a desk in the newsroom.

He or she has a list of all the stories that need to appear in the next day’s edition of the newspaper. These are laid out on blank pages, fitted around one another like a jigsaw puzzle. Then dozens of headlines are dreamed up.

The headlines are intended to catch the attention of bleary-eyed readers skimming the newspaper the next morning. Their length is constricted by how much space happens to be available on the physical page. These editors are sometimes…

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