Paul Farhi covers news media for the Washington Post and he's learned that reporters won't talk to him on the record: "Journalists know how the news game is played, and they’re all too eager to play it to their advantage when they’re the interrogated, not the interrogators. I’ve interviewed people in the news business for years; rare is the reporter or editor who speaks his or her mind freely. Most will provide information when asked, but only with strings attached."
Journalists are trained to use powerful language, but Paige Brown Jarreau discusses research showing that appropriate hedging can enhance credibility in science writing: "It may be [see what I did there?] that when it comes to science and science communication, powerless language is evaluated more positively, as it relates to the basic scientific principle of uncertainty. Powerful language, persuasive in courtrooms, is met with skepticism among science blog readers."
A month after William Zinsser's death. Maria Popova excerpts science-writing tips from On Writing Well: "Imagine science writing as an upside-down pyramid. Start at the bottom with the one fact a reader must know before he can learn any more. The second sentence broadens what was stated first, making the pyramid wider, and the third sentence broadens the second, so that you can gradually move beyond fact into significance and speculation."
Tabitha M. Powledge examines the evolving reaction to John Bohannon’s sting involving a phony study linking chocolate consumption and weight loss: "Here’s another reason for dismay. The denialists are using the dark chocolate hoax as evidence that neither journalists nor journals can be trusted on climate change and global warming either." Also, on Michael LaCour's defense of his gay-marriage study: "I hope you will not be surprised to learn that no one believes it."
Two of the most popular modern authors — Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series — don't even exist, Daniel A. Gross writes in a look at a publishing legend: "They’re still here because their creators found a way to minimize cost, maximize output, and standardize creativity. The solution was an assembly line that made millions by turning writers into anonymous freelancers — a business model that is central to the Internet age."
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned in February, hours after a newspaper reported that the governor's staff tried to delete a trove of official email from state servers. Nigel Jaquiss writes about what happened next to Michael Rodgers, the state employee who leaked the news: "Rodgers may be the latest casualty of the Kitzhaber scandal, an unprecedented chapter in Oregon political history that has altered much more than the lives of a four-term governor and his fiancee."
In a two-partessay on the risks of ionizing radiation, David Ropeik begs reporters to avoid alarmism: "Ionizing radiation is a veritable poster child for how journalism dramatizes the scariest aspects of risk stories, and plays down or completely leaves out information that would make the risk seem less frightening, information the news consumer needs in order to make an informed judgment about just how big or small the risk actually is."