1. Report this comment

    Sonia Furtado Neves said:

    This post really resonated with me, even though I’m a science writer with a science background – but having a background in science (or even being an expert) doesn’t make you an expert in all fields.

    Importantly, I think this post also answers an issue scientists sometimes have with interviews: the feeling that they spent a long time answering a lot of questions, and the result is less than a page long and only quotes half a dozen of their actual words. True, but those many minutes and seemingly repetitive questions were probably instrumental in making that final text accurate, comprehensible and readable.

  2. Report this comment

    Kenneth Klemow said:

    This is a very thoughtful piece. Having a successful relationship between science and the media is critical to enhancing public understanding of the new discoveries that scientists make each day. The relationship often breaks down when the two partners become mistrustful of each other. Media folks are put off by those scientists who are condescending, and fail to adequately explain the substance and significance of their work. Scientists are put off by media folks who sensationalize, fail to convey the nuance that is inherent in research, and distort scientific findings to bolster a biased story. If both sides enter into the relationship with an intent to avoid those issues, then science wins, the media win, and – most importantly – the public wins.

  3. Report this comment

    Michael Wosnick said:

    Very well written. I am a scientist but not a science writer per se. But I do deem myself to be a professional “science and research communicator” in that a lot of my previous role, now carried on into retirement, has been about informing and exciting the public about advances in research, in my case cancer research. I have been told that I am an excellent presenter and have gotten rave reviews nationwide (in Canada) about my presentations to the public at all levels. My secret: you MUST start from scratch and build the presentation in the form of metaphors, analogies and stories that relate to the general public. Do not talk DOWN to them, but use rich imagery and examples from common day life that parallels the point you are trying to drive home.

    I have too many times seen very accomplished researchers try to “dumb down” a scientific presentation to make it suitable for a lay audience.It rarely works. People’s eyes glaze over if the slide (in a PowerPoint, for example) is a “science slide” and no matter how eloquently you may be speaking to the point, you have already lost them. Plus it encourages you, as presenter, to inadvertently slip back into jargon.

    Leave the detailed scientific presentations for scientific audiences. If you are speaking to the public, start all over again and build it for the audience.

  4. Report this comment

    Ashley Berthelot said:

    Excellent piece. As a science writer with no science background, I find the work challenging but rewarding. I especially agree with what you said about not being afraid to ask “stupid” questions. That’s often the only way to get to the real story … even if it does earn you some funny looks from the researchers 🙂

Comments are closed.