Science is NOT Sensation!

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"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers". — Thomas Jefferson.

The presentation of ‘happenings’ as sensation and subtle conversion of absence of evidence into evidence of absence has become the order of the day in news reporting. In the age of media governed by fundamentals of infotainment, it all boils down to commercial value of any news. In such times, the paradigm of scientific reporting - ancient but marginalized art, needs to be separated from main stream journalism.

Science may achieve the unbelievable but definitely its reporting should not be rooted in sensation with a sole motto to sale. Unfortunately; in the age where science is expanding like never before, science journalism has taken a backburner. Scientific reporting is seldom done let alone by science journalists and if sometimes it has to be done then it is plated as sensation. It is no secret if one just happens to be a little careful about the recent coverage of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan.

Reporting science to sell is two headed snake; it does not only dilute the detailed pros and cons (soul of any scientific development) and give half-baked truth but also acts as a hindrance to promotion of scientific temperament especially among the youths in the long run.

How ironical is it that scientific reporting itself hampering its own growth! Magic is science but science should not be portrayed as magic. People are integral part of the scientific community and public opinion matters most of the time. Science should be conveyed sacredly because if public is half-informed or misinformed then it is very likely to create hurdle and chaos in national development as happened in Kudankulam nuclear power plant project.

Scientific reporting culture is vanishing and it is high time that science journalism is promoted. Few organizations like Indian Science communication Society (ISCOS) is popularizing and distinguishing it from the main news reporting stream. However, such steps are far and few to uphold the identity of science journalism.

Somehow I feel the scientific community has to be alert about how certain phenomenon or development is conveyed to the public. Being from the scientific fraternity, I understand well that it is too much to ask for from them but no model apart from their inclusion seems viable in an age where sensation sells. Perhaps that is the last resort to connect science with the masses!

Postdoctoral Fellow
Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland

Dr. Siddharth Suman is a freelancer writing especially on societal issues, science, and education in both Hindi and English for various online media houses. In addition, he loves to write poetry and short story for the expression of personal emotions and thoughts. His poetry book titled 'Evaporating Soul — between love and life' may be read at Kindle.


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