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Evaluating Media’s Reporting of Scientific Work


Subject Media Pages 4 Style APA


  1. Identifier Table


Media Article

Research Article


S.O.S! Could UV light disinfection help save us all from covigeddon?

Far-UVC light efficiently and safely inactivates airborne human coronaviruses.



Nature Research journal

Date of publication



Was the research done by author of article



Where are the authors from?

Beida is a contributor on the Medium.com website

The authors are researchers from Columbia University


  1. Summaries
  1. Research Article

Buonanno et al. (2020) present relatively relevant findings concerning the use of UV light in the management of airborne viral transmissions of diseases. The authors argue that the use of UV light to kill germs has previously been proven to be effective, especially through the use of germicidal UVs. For that reason, a similar approach can be explored in the management of COVID 19. However, studies have also shown that the use of UV light can inflict harm on human skin and the eyes. Hence, the current study aimed to determine the most appropriate wavelength that could be effective in combating the virus, yet mild enough not to harm human beings. The study conducted experiments on tissue cultures and determined that UV light can be effective in controlling up to 99.9% of viruses. In addition, if used at an exposure rate of 3 mJ/cm2/hour, it would be effective in eliminating viruses without necessarily harming humans. If the findings of this research article are credible, this research will play a significant role in curbing the spread of COVID 19 and will help millions of people in staying safe and free of the current epidemic.

  1. Media Article

                Bieda’s report emphasizes the credibility of UV light technology and paints a positive hopeful picture of a scientific weapon against COVID-19. His article delves into scientific jargon to offer a background to the current discovery and convince the audience that contrary to previous fears regarding the carcinogenic properties of UV light, a specific wavelength is harmless to humans. Bieda also explores the ramifications of the new technology on society and evaluates possible risks it may pose to people. Nonetheless, he concludes that the gains of the technology far much outweigh the probable risks; therefore, there is a high probability that people will embrace the Far UVc discovery. 

  1. Analysis of the Articles

On the one hand, the scholarly article is formally structured, with several sections that make it easy for the reader to follow. The language used in the article is formal, too, and appears to be technical judging by the immense jargon it incorporates. These pointers suggest that the article targets a technical audience that can understand the content. To improve its credibility, the article cites several notable authorities on UV research, and includes data and statistics to back up its hypothesis. The findings support the view that there are specific wavelengths of UV that are harmless to humans but very effective in deactivating the virus’s DNA, especially when they are administered in unique doses.

On the other hand, Bieda’s article is relatively informal and lacks clearly demarcated sections to explain his flow of thoughts. The language used is informal, judging by observations such as the use of the term ‘Covigeddon’ to denote the apocalyptic epidemic, as well as the incorporation of personal experiences to make the content more relatable to and with the reader. Unlike the scholarly article, the arrangement of the content in Beida’s article aims to entertain and inform readers by breaking down the research’s findings into formats that the reader can quickly grasp. Nonetheless, the article’s reporting of the study’s finding is fairly accurate.

  1. Presentation of Experimental Results in the Media Article

Bieda’s media article does not mention any experimental results when explaining the new study. The author only underscores the potential viability of the technology in the light of several historical applications. The author mentions the parties involved in the research but fails to acknowledge any data that can support his allegations.

  1. Comparison Between the Conclusions of the Media and Research Articles

The comparison between the conclusions of the media and research article exhibit a difference. Although the research article fails to mention the possibility of the virus mutating and developing resistance to UV light, Beida incorporates this aspect in the final portions of his work. In particular, he quotes an authoritative journal that deals with exposure and its effects on organisms and underscores that with time, the viruses may mutate and develop a strong resistance to UV light to facilitate their proliferation.

  1. Treatment of Data

The issue of data criticism does not arise in any of the two articles. The research article appears to solidly back the hypothesis, even though it utilizes data obtained by other researchers to estimate the effective wavelength that can damage the virus. Nonetheless, Beida explores several concepts relating to the technology, which he believes are consequential in the efficacy of the proposed methodology. These include issues pertaining to the effects of UV light on items such as plastic, as well as mutation of viruses following long exposures. From Beida’s argument, there appears to be some points of concern regarding the technology, which the researchers have not addressed yet.

  1. Discrepancies in the Content of the Two Articles

The research article fails to mention any limitations involved in their study, although there appears to be several. These include, the use of unverified data from previous experiments, and the use of tissue cultures in their experiment. While this is the standard protocol in such experiments, the use of living organisms such as mice and human clinical trials might bring out some unexpected results. Beida attempts to highlight some of these factors, albeit shallowly, but concludes that humans will be more willing to tolerate minute effects in support of the overall fight against COVID-19.

  1. Comparison Between the Titles of the Two Articles

The titles of the two articles significantly differ. The research article mentions the aspect of deactivating airborne human coronaviruses, suggesting a focus on air transmissions. On the other hand, the media article discusses the possibility of light disinfection to save humanity from the COVID-19 epidemic which, to a lay person, might refer to a cure. As such, the media article’s title is more of a clickbait to attract audiences, rather than an informative title.

  1. Reflection

From this exercise, I have identified several fundamental differences between scientific research and its equivalent coverage in the media. While scientific research is straightforward and clearly in its expression, the media infuses elements of ‘humanness’ to make the audience to identify with the content. Media also leaves out some the technical jargon included in scientific texts, and attempts to re-package such information into content that is easily readable and intriguing to the audience. This situation exemplifies both advantages and disadvantages of presenting new scientific research in both scholarly articles media.

Firstly, the media article digresses from the primary point by including other ideas – some of which are in the public domain. Such a move can distract the reader’s attention and push them towards other activities. Yet, the main advantage of publishing scientific findings in the media emanates from the ease of presentation, as well as the simplicity of language – this guarantees that a larger audience will listen and grasp the contents of the study.  Considering the scholarly article, printing it or uploading it on various media increases circulation and encourages contributions from other experts in the furtherance of knowledge. However, a major disadvantage with this strategy is that the information may not be readily understood by citizens who are not privy to the discipline’s jargon.


Beida, S. (2020). S.O.S! Could UV light disinfection help save us all from covigeddon? Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@EVPVStevie/s-o-s-could-uv-light-disinfection-help-save-us-all-from-covigeddon-30739c3fceff’

Buonanno, M., Welch, D., Shuryak, I., & Brenner, D. J. (2020). Far-UVC light efficiently and safely inactivates airborne human coronaviruses. Nature Research [unpublished – currently under peer review]. Doi: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-25728/v1

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