In general, however, Otto thinks the news media has not done enough to press the candidates to explain their positions on important scientific issues, citing cutbacks in science reporting, understaffed newsrooms under deadline pressure, and a trend toward repackaging canned content.

“Then there’s the presumption by many in the media that the public isn’t interested,” Otto added. “Our polling shows this is absolutely false. This is likely selection bias by reporters, editors, and news directors, many of whose last science class was likely high school chemistry, and who likely avoided science in college. They often presume the public shares their views. But in a science-driven global society and economy, the media is the missing link in helping the people remain well informed about these critical issues that affect our lives.”

Otto’s words should be a reminder to journalists nationwide. Even if’s dream comes true, and the candidates go head-to-head over science and engineering on national TV, reporters everywhere need to make these issues part of their daily coverage of the presidential and Congressional campaigns.


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