In a terrific parody of science journalism on the web, blogger Martin Robbins has written the ultimate generic science article about a recently-published research paper. Complete with random one-sentence paragraph, specious attempt to represent the points of view of special interest groups who know nothing about science, and weasel language where the journalist pretends to be objective:
This paragraph elaborates on the claim, adding weasel-words like "the scientists say" to shift responsibility for establishing the likely truth or accuracy of the research findings on to absolutely anybody else but me, the journalist.
In this paragraph I will state in which journal the research will be published. I won't provide a link because either a) the concept of adding links to web pages is alien to the editors, b) I can't be bothered, or c) the journal inexplicably set the embargo on the press release to expire before the paper was actually published.
"Basically, this is a brief soundbite," the scientist will say, from a department and university that I will give brief credit to. "The existing science is a bit dodgy, whereas my conclusion seems bang on," she or he will continue.
You've got to read the whole thing. The only thing he gets wrong is that most of us don't really have editors - or if we do, they never argue with us about what's in our stories in any more depth than: "Hey does it have a headline and picture or video? If yes, then great."
via UK Guardian