March 26, 2009

Doing the journalists' job for them

Breakfast tableThe science behind the news stories is a wonderful little experiment. It takes an url of a BBC news story about a scientific finding and tries to extract enough information from the text to determine which scientific paper it is about.

This is an annoying problem for bloggers and scientists: there are many news stories based on science that might merit a proper response based on their source rather than the often limited or distorted reporting - but the stories almost never state which study led to the story. Journalists and/or press release writers seem to assume news consumers are unable and uninterested in going to the sources. While in a newspaper space might be at a premium and even a tinyurl might be too large, on the web there is simply no excuse for not linking or naming the article.

I hope Adam Bernard's little project grows, so we can use it to mine not just BBC but the other news sources. Of course, they could just start adding urls. But it seems more likely that we, the readers, will have to become computer-supported sleuths instead to circumvent the limitations of the news business. And science may just be the first step - there are probably many other aspects of news that could be enhanced if we mined it.

Posted by Anders3 at March 26, 2009 03:24 PM