Indeed, as the analysis suggests, journalists do not need to sensationalize research to garner attention. The authors concede that, “Of course, journalists should be allowed to use crafty wordsmanship to engage public interest.” But a good writer should be able to tell the difference between crafty and crude.

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