The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I think that's right, but I do think that if you -- one of the points I haven't made yet, which I'm really keen to make, is that the best ally of science are the science reporters. We have some fantastic science journalists in this country and I believe that if you put them in a room with very eminent scientists and members of the public that it would take them a couple of hours to come up with these basic guidelines for science coverage. It is things that are very straightforward. If you say that taking aspirin doubles your risk of heart disease or cancer, that sounds massive. If you look at the actual figures, and that means a rise of cancer from 1 in 1,000 to 1.5 in 1,000, then people will make different judgments.

So there's a really basic thing, that you will ask journalists: don't just put the increased risk in percentage terms or doubling or trebling terms; also give us the numbers. Very basic, not difficult. The reason newspapers don't do it is because it doesn't have the same impact, so then it becomes a question about the news editor wanting to terrify us with the scary figures, and we're saying that actually the science journalists and health journalists don't agree with that. They want a more balanced message.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech