Recently there have been quite a few good newspaper articles about theoretical physics and string theory in particular: informative, fair, balanced, organized. The article about "Twenty years of string theory" in The New York Times is probably the best example. Unfortunately, the text of Keay Davidson from San Francisco Chronicle does not fit the bill.
What is the main reason why I think that this article is dumb? The main reason is that the journalist was obviously completely unable to figure out who are the people who may give some qualified opinions about the subject. Consequently, the article is nearly equivalent to a poll between random people on Massachusetts Avenue or random people in the jungle, for that matter. The article is a typical example of the journalistic opinion that the truth about high energy physics may be determined by a referendum in the jungle.
If an uninformed person reads the article, she could think that the opinions about quantum gravity and high-energy physics of David Gross, John Schwarz - and also Brian Greene and Raphael Bousso - are as important as the opinions of Zlatko Tesanovič, Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss, Peter Woit, Philip Anderson, Bob Laughlin, and Carlo Rovelli. My apologies to those in the latter list who believe that their opinions about the current state of string theory matter - I beg to differ (with the possible exception of Michio Kaku who is described as the main proponent of the theory).
This method of choosing the participants is of course completely ridiculous, and such an approach can't lead to a meaningful, informative article. If a good journalist wanted to write an exciting story, she would ask the leading people working in the field and the leading researchers in related and possibly competing fields (with a preference for the outspoken ones). And she would insist that they say something technical and informative, instead of just dumb vacuous attacks and "yes/no" viewpoints.
However, this journalist failed. He or she has mostly asked people who don't enjoy any respect in answering these questions, who don't know anything about the subject (or almost nothing), and he or she reduced the answers of this strange mixture of experts and ignorants to a "yes/no" shouting match. This is what I call "poor science journalism".
Update: For a celebration of this article, see another blog.