Even without the rise of awareness for the climate change due to the UN climate conference in Durban, the news about the influence of the permafrost thaw would surely have made headlines in Germany. The basic message: "Permafrost thaw will release the same order of magnitude of carbon as deforestation, they [the Permafrost Carbon Network, 41 experts] calculate, but its effect on climate will be 2.5 times bigger", according to Nature's press release. The amount of carbon released by 2100 will be 1.7–5.2 times greater than reported previously, the scientists said, a "cause for serious concern". But they also admit, that the "scientific community needs to collect more data and develop more sophisticated models to test the hypotheses presented by this survey."
The Frankfurter Rundschau used dapd's article, which relies solely on the authors of the Nature paper and does not include any other, independent sources. This alone is not a very journalistic way to deal with a topic, in general. There is another reason that this case is even special. The news is not based on peer reviewed science and distinct data. The scientists Edward Schuur, Benjamin Abbott and the other members of the Vulnerability of Permafrost Carbon Research Coordination Network wrote a comment for Nature, in which they present a "collective estimation" of "how much of the permafrost is likely to thaw". The dapd article hints, that the calculations are based on "estimations" but it never challenges or approves the accuracy of the estimation with a second, independent source. The same applies for the dpa-based article of the Financial Times Deutschland and Die Welt, though their article mentions, at least, that the news is based on a comment. Additional to quotes from first author Edward Schuur, the Deutschlandfunk's report included a second voice: the climate scientist Victor Brovkin from the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, who puts the message of the Nature comment into some context. But unfortunately Brovin, too, is part of the consortium and not independent.
The permafrost paper also spurred a blog post at the "Klima-Ticker", where FAZ's Joachim Müller-Jung tries to gloss scientific facts and climate politics. With lots of irony, he portraits the "hot Russian" president Putin, who likes the idea of hunting in a much warmer Taiga, e.g.
What would you call a "breakthrough" in Malaria research? A vaccine? An effective, low-cost drug with minor side effects? Probably. But what's definitely NOT a breakthrough – although the Augsburger Allgemeine hyped it as such – is the finding of a bunch of possible new drug targets. An international team found that 36 out of 65 so called protein kinases are essentiell for the survival of the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum, the most common Malaria agent, which is spread via Anopheles moskitos. Of course it is important to search for and find soft spots of the Malaria agent (the Austrian Standard headlined it this way). But this is basic research and far from being a breakthrough. Finding proteins essential for Plasmodium's survival is just the first step of a probably ten to twelve year long process of finding, developing and testing a new drug. Neither the AZ's headline "Malaria could soon be curable" nor the rest of the article emphasized this "minor" fact and instead suggested that a solution for Malaria is right around the corner. I know, this happens all the time, due to an obscure fear that the readers' interest would need a boost. But in the long run that's a disservice. It suggests that basic research automatically and directly leads to medical breakthroughs. But the translation of basic knowledge into drugs is more complicated. After readers do not see such direct, obvious correlations they will react with distrust in science and particularly "breaktrough"-typereporting. In this case, the Austrian agency APA distributed the hyped news ("Malaria could soon be curable"), but in the end it is in the responsibility of Augsburger Allgemeine, Standard and others not to copy-paste the agency's article but to edit it in a way, that it represents the real relevance of the scientific work or (if there is time) to talk to independent Malaria experts to put in in context – or one could use Google, for a change: The University Würzburg (also involved in this research project) distributed a far more differentiated press release with a local voice (news value!) than the agency's piece.