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Friday, December 16, 2011

Reporting on Discoveries

It would seem that a pattern has formed when it comes to the general media reporting on scientific discovery: A day before an announcement on a possible discovery by a scientific organization, if the possible discovery is deemed interesting enough, the media announces that 'Possibly a new discovery has been made...’ Almost every time the next day the announcement is made and it’s not the discovery that the media was hyping, but just an update on how the experiments are going (which tend to be truly interesting). The strange thing is that the media does not report on the announcement, after the announcement has been made, so one has to do research to see what they were talking about in the first place. This pattern recently played out earlier this week when CERN http://www.lhc.ac.uk/ announced an update in their search for the Higs boson http://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2011/PR25.11E.html . The day before, on Dec 12/11 an announcement was made on the radio that a substantial discovery might be announced on Dec 13/11 at 8am. When the next day arrived, and no news on this could be found on common sources for scientific news, it was only reported directly on the Cern website, that they have not conclusively observed the elusive Higs boson, but they think that they are very close to getting a confirmed observation. Here at Citizen Scientist, we recommend to wait until the day of the announcement, and then formulate a news story based on the actual announcement. This would dispel any perception of grandstanding in the media and would possibly generate more interest in world wide scientific endeavors.

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