Trust, Bias, and Fairness of Information Sources for Biotechnology Issues

Gary J. Wingenbach and Tracy A. Rutherford
Texas A&M University

What do journalists think about information source trustworthiness, bias, and fairness in communicating agricultural biotechnology issues? Fifty Texas journalists and 40 national agriculture journalists representing newspapers and television media responded to this study. Journalists believed university scientists/researchers and newspapers were trustworthy, unbiased, and fair, while activist groups were untrustworthy, completely biased, and unfair in communicating agricultural biotechnology issues. They were most opposed to public opinion outweighing scientists’ opinions when making decisions about scientific research. A substantial positive correlation occurred between national agriculture journalists’ attitudes toward democratic processes in science (i.e., the extent that public opinion is considered in scientific decision-making processes) and trust in newspapers.

Key words: Bias, biotechnology concerns, fairness, information sources, trustworthiness.