Lab animal research is one of the most contentious topics in science. A recent Gallup poll found that 44% of Americans find animal testing “morally wrong”, compared to just 26% in 2001. Animal rights groups are constantly launching campaigns against researchers who use animals, especially dogs, cats, and primates. And even scientists themselves are divided on the topic, with a 2011 poll of biomedical researchers revealing that 33 percent have ethical concerns about the work.
All of this makes animal research tricky to cover for journalists. What level of detail should reporters go into when describing animal studies? What responsibility do journalists have to consider the safety of scientists? And what constitutes a balanced story on animal research?
I recently spoke on this topic at a session I co-organized at the World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco. You can view a video of the entire session above.