Eight way distortion

Photo by Flickr user LuluP. Click for sourcePetra’s written up her barnstorming talk she gave last night at the Troublemaker’s Fringe where she discussed ‘eight problems with science/health journalism and what we can do about it’ from her perspective as a social psychologist specialising in sex and relationships.

It’s a fantastic guide to how health stories get badly spun and why sexual health material is most likely to be misrepresented as it is considered ‘light’ and so not worthy of serious attention.

One of the main culprits seem to be the reliance on PR surveys which are intuitively easy to understand but are specifically designed to push a certain angle.

I was interested to hear that they are often designed not with journalists so much in mind, but the picture editor – see Clairol’s recent ‘survey’ finding that women are happiest at 28. Women like 28-year-old Jessica Alba and Gisele Bundchen by any chance? Bingo. Free celebrity tie-in reported as science in the national press.

Petra has plenty more media gems and it makes for a great insight into the thinking behind the sex and relationship stories that makes the media.

Link to Petra on science and health reporting.

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