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November 22, 1995

Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and Technology

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Wis


by Dorothy Nelkin, revised edition, 217 pp, $15.95, ISBN 0-7167-2595-9, New York, NY, WH Freeman Co, 1987, 1995.

JAMA. 1995;274(20):1638-1639. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530200076047

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


For a medical researcher or scientist, being contacted by journalists for a story or an opinion brings on a rush of conflicting sensations. Easily starstruck do we become with ourselves for our 15 minutes or 3-column inches. This is often followed quickly by paranoia, fear, and resentment as we perceive our work distorted and exaggerated. "They didn't get it right, they don't understand the implications, the public will panic!"

Based on repeated observations of this phenomenon in her studies of public attitudes toward science and technology, Professor Nelkin decided to study the relationship between scientists and the media and to describe the world of science journalists. This book constitutes a revised edition of the one originally published in 1987, updated to include her observations of recent changes in the way science is reported in the news.

The author first examines image making in science reporting, where the use of certain

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