Such trends explain why, in a series of recent posts at The Observatory, Ohio State’s Holland and Matthew Nisbet, a science communications expert at American University, have vigorously debated the evolving roles of scientists, university press offices, and journalists when it comes to explaining important research to the public. With climate change, biotechnology, and personalized medicine at the forefront of domestic and international policy right now, such dialogues are crucially important to the wellbeing of journalists and lay citizens alike.

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