When quotes matter: impact of outside quotes in a science press release on news judgment



Scientists often cite discrepancy between scientific values and news values as a primary factor in poor quality science reporting. The goal of this study was to understand how news values including conflict and controversy affect science communicators’ evaluation of press releases containing quotes from outside expert sources. Results of an online survey experiment suggest science communicators find a climate science press release with an outside expert quote that introduces controversy to be more newsworthy. However, when a science communicator attributes relatively high importance to reliability of facts as a guiding principle in story selection, this preference for controversy is reversed.