25 January, 2013

H5N1 demoratorium p.s.

Re: conversation at https://twitter.com/carlzimmer/status/294927572532359169

Would have been nice to see more of the older journalists distinguishing themselves, too.  But just tracking down a critic isn’t enough in itself. There were plenty of pro-forma, down-at-the-bottom single-critic quotes in coverage. One has to make a judgement call about weighting the criticisms, and whether the stock narrative (transmissibility-enhancing H5N1 research to begin again; many top flu virologists say benefits outweigh risks; no need to talk more about it) was the right one. And there wasn’t time for that in the three or four non-press conference hours most daily journalists had to report on this story, especially if you hadn’t been following the story, the politics and the science fairly closely — which from questions asked at during the press conference seemed to be the case for most of us.