In the end, the more interesting and important question may not be whether the publicity blitz lead to hype, but rather if it led to the kind of traction promoters expected. [Update, May 22: I wrote to soon. In retrospect, the most important question does, in fact, seem to be the extent to which publicity campaigns lead to overstatement and/or inhibit science journalists’ ability to be critical and do their work effectively.] While it is imperative to engage the “hard to reach” audiences that Nisbet writes about, stories get “big” because they have meat, not because they are accompanied by flashy advertising campaigns. Ida may be the most complete fossil primate ever, but at this point, scientists are still picking over the bones.

If you'd like to help CJR and win a chance at one of 10 free print subscriptions, take a brief survey for us here.

Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.