The popularity of blogs and blogging has grown considerably in the past few years. Watchdog blogs are blogs that try to right the wrongs in popular science news and documents, and are maintained by a variety of persons from journalists to students and science experts. Watchdog blogs help the public to learn critical thinking when reading science-related news. There is also the hope that criticism presented in the watchdog blogs will help journalists to get the facts right in their articles.
The session “Misuse Them and Abuse Them: Fighting for the Facts in Science Journalism” on Wednesday 26th of June concentrates on watchdog blogs: what they are, what their impact is, and if they reach the right audience. Producer Frank Nuijens, moderator Julia Belluz, and speakers Deborah Blum, Gary Schwitzer, and Peter Burger are all highly acclaimed journalists and have been working with science-related websites and blogs.
This session will outline how to set-up a watchdog blog in your own country, going through three different examples of watchdog blogs: (1) the Knight Science Journalism tracker was launched in 2006. It handles various themes related to, e.g., health and environmental issues, and is maintained by nine journalists. It has ca. 10 000 frequent users who work in science and science journalism. (2) News Checkers blog, supervised by Peter Burger, is mainly used as a teaching tool to educate journalism students of Leiden University to think critically, write scientifically, and find reliable information. (3) HealthNewsReview.org is maintained in co-operation with health professionals and journalists. It is aimed at the public and it goes through health-related news and rates them on the basis of their strengths and weaknesses, backed up by clear and thorough explanations.
The session “Misuse Them and Abuse Them: Fighting for the Facts in Science Journalism” considers a very important subject. Unfortunately, popular science articles are not always accurate and scientifically correct. If you are interested in learning new ways to check your facts, this is the session for you!