Dorothy Nelkin was one of the premier "field" sociologists of science during the past 35 years, until her untimely death in 2003. She studied and wrote abundantly about the most intense science controversies of the post-war era: nuclear power, military research, foetal and DNA research, genetic modification, and much more. As part of this work, she was constantly involved in observing and analyzing how the media, as the most public forms of knowledge transfer, handled the different sides in any debate and how the knowledge itself was represented. Her book "Selling Science" comes directly out of this experience, and it is sobering. Nelkin shows how the style and information needs of the news media (as well as its logistical demands) differ profoundly from those for scientists, leading to perceptions and realities of misrepresentation.
No scientist who deals with the media should be without this book. Its examples are dated (from the late 80s and early 90s), but its points remain wholly intact. The recent scandal of how the media handled the climate change issue in the U.S., favoring ideas of "uncertainty" in the name of "balance" (while being deeply influenced by a tiny but vocal minority of global warming deniers) is certainly a case in point.
The book should also be read by all students of media studies, and by journalists themselves.