Fact-checking discussion at ESOF2018

At the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) in Toulouse, I participated in a panel discussion with editors and fact-checkers from Undark and Der Spiegel. Thanks to the journalists, scientists and science communicators who attended and contributed to our discussion.

Here are some tweeted bits:

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ESOF2018 panel on July 11:

We live in a period sometimes referred to as a post-truth or post-truth era. And at a time when the general public increasingly expresses doubts about scientific findings, its important both for scientists and science journalists to put a premium on accuracy and integrity of information. Journalists, long criticized on the issue of accuracy, have begun to address this problem by adding a professional level of fact-checking to their work. Although this approach was first tried in political reporting, with organizations like Politifact, similar systems such as Canadas Détecteur de Rumeurs, based in the Quebec province, are now in place. Popular science publications have begun adding full-time fact-checkers to their staffs and one of the leading guides to fact-checking, published last year by the University of Chicago, was written by a science journalist. But all of this raises questions for both journalists and scientists. Is fact-checking catching enough errors? How many facts should be checked in a story and to what depth? What happens if a factchecker questions a scientist quoted in a story or finds problems with a publication? Does story get lost in an over-emphasis on fine details and do important stories fail to get told? And is this a process that will help restore faith in both in the institutions of science and science journalism? The panel will explore these questions and offer insights and practical tips into how fact-checking is transforming the way we tell stories of science.

Submitted by Deborah BLUM – Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT. Speakers: Brooke BOREL – Freelance, Anja KRIEGER – Freelance Science Journalist, Jane ROBERTS – Undark Magazine, MIT, Thomas ZELLER – Undark Magazine, Tom ZELLER – Undark magazine, MIT, Maximilian SCHÄFER – DER SPIEGEL

Attendance: 50-60 people

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