… is not very easy.
On one hand, (part of) the public entrusts scientists with the task of sorting out the complicated details, subsequent number crunching, and production of details; on the other hand, they want the “answer” in black and white, a right or wrong. All without really taking into account the continuous trial and improvement process, and the ability that science has to be “more or less” right or wrong. (Error calculations – yeahhhh…) Furthermore, it does not help that, recently, emails have been leaked accusing scientists of manipulating (or fudging ^^) data, to suit their own agenda.
This could possibly be why some members of the public prefer the press to report the news, as it is, after all, their profession.
This is of course, also an interesting case, as different media groups with different target audiences can very well have agenda’s of their own, and once they printed/broadcasted the information they are interested in, “cut to advertisement”. There are also circumstances where the journalist is completely innocent, and have simply been denied certain data when doing their research. Press organisations sometimes also use press releases (although I hope churnalism will never become too mainstream) and/or press liaisons, who, naturally, follow leads from whichever scientific organisation they represent.
For most people however, the aim is the same – to put the public in the know. So does the problem lie with the reporters – scientist or lay – or with the people who choose to dismiss the reports without actually having read them or for “inaccuracies”?