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A German academy’s proposal to make science journalism peer-reviewed shows a misunderstanding of the differences between research and news, says Inga Vesper.

The relationship between scientists and journalists can be tetchy. They operate differently in many ways. Reporters need clear answers quickly. Their job is to simplify, to pick and choose. They want stories and revelations, not incremental improvements and long-term trends.

The needs of the newsroom can therefore clash painfully with those of science. Many researchers are frustrated when they see years of work reduced to two paragraphs. Often, they are right. The urge to sensationalise turns every scientific advance into a solution, every iota of knowledge into a discovery. And then there are the pesky reporters who ask seemingly insulting questions. Why did you do your set-up like you did? Who paid for this? Why was your paper amended?

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