The episodes related to the climate-change-and-food-production report and the penguin flipper-banding study do, of course, reinforce the vital importance of reporters not taking any information in studies, reports, or press releases for granted. Blindly repeating assertions made by scientists (or anybody else) is the job of stenographers, not journalists. The incidents also reinforce the value of mid-career training. The vast majority of reporters out there would surely benefit from a remedial math course; their editors should encourage—and, dare I say it, pay for—them to take one.
Clarification: The lede of this article was amended to reflect the fact that the study related to penguin banding and the report related to climate change and food production themselves contained the numerical errors, in addition to their accompanying press releases.
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