Amid all the complaints of the appalling quality of most press releases - and the weary sighs of those who have heard the call for the death of the release once too often - it is easy to forget that, in some sectors, the information content of releases has remained pretty good. These rare beasts are written tightly and plainly enough for journalists work out their relevance with a skim through instead of having to work out what each phrase might mean. Some releases are still written as though they are news stories; the problem is that, in other sectors, this good style of release has been squashed by the corporate Nuspeak nightmare that always starts: "BigCo, Inc, the leader in high-mass total solutions, announces the availability of..."
The science research sector is one of the best examples of how the release can remain useful. So much so, that after lumping AlphaGalileo and Eurekalert into the main PR feed in NetNewsWire, I realised the error of my ways and put them in their own group so I can find them without wading through the other stuff - this is despite the fact that the feeds I use are not that precise in terms of the areas that I normally cover. The signal-ton-noise ratio is plenty good enough to inspect that group regularly. The rest of the releases can flounder in the main feed.
Science releases are not all paragons of good release style but, for the most part, I have no complaints about the way information is presented by the institutions that use services such as AlphaGalileo and Eurekalert to tell journalists (and anybody else) about their research work. One important factor in this is that a good number of universities employ specialist science writers to produce the releases, which are often formatted as stories that appear on the institution's own research-news pages. Those writers can often be the named first point of contact for journalists, or at least have their details provided alongside those of the lead researcher.