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J Commun. 2011 Jun;61(3):496-513.

Distorting Genetic Research about Cancer: From Bench Science to Press Release to Published News.

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University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication.
The Ohio State University, School of Communication.


This study considered genetic research relating to cancer outcomes and behaviors, specifically investigating the extent to which claims made in press releases (N=23) and mainstream print media (N=71) were fairly derived from their original presentation in scholarly journals (N=20). Central claims expressing gene-outcome relationships were evaluated by a large pool (N=40) of genetics graduate students. Raters judged press release claims as significantly more representative of material within the original science journal article compared with news article claims. Claims originating in news articles which demonstrated contact with individuals not directly involved in the research were judged by experts to be more representative of the original science as compared with those that demonstrated contact with individuals directly involved in the research.


Genetics; Lay Press; Press Release; Science Communication; Science Journalism

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