Fiona Fox questions the accuracy of science reporting
At the end of 2013, allegations of animal suffering in some of the UK’s premiere research labs were brought to national attention in newspaper headlines. Reports from the animal rights group BUAV, included distressing images and videos of animals suffering terribly in laboratories across the country. Rightly so, these reports prompted the UK Home Office to carry out an investigation into these facilities.
In the findings, published last week, only 5 of the 180 allegations made by BUAV about Imperial College London were upheld. These five were additionally classed as “minor”, meaning that they “[did] not involve significant, avoidable or unnecessary pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm”. The remaining 175 claims were declared “unsubstantiated”.
Writing in the Guardian, Fiona Fox says that “The huge discrepancy between allegations in UK newspapers and the truth should worry anyone who cares about the accurate reporting of science in the media”
Many national news outlets covered the original stories from BUAV back in 2013, but there are very few headlines to be found on the Home Office’s findings. This particular story has reignited the debate on how to report science accurately in the media, and highlighted the need for open and honest debate and discussion that goes beyond one-sided reporting.