Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Why Does It Matter? Clues for Scientists When Dealing with Reporters

Scientists -- like Boy Scouts -- should be prepared when that call comes in from one of the ink-stained wretches of the mainstream, print media or one of the harried online reporters who hardly have time to think.

Based on decades of experience on behalf of the folks who own the presses, I can tell you that is a good admonition. It was reinforced mightily by another few years on the opposite side of the reporters' notebook, where it became readily apparently that interviewees need to think carefully about the message they want to impart.

Today, I ran across some advice to journalists who aspire to query researchers. I am passing it along to the readers of the California Stem Cell Report, 99.9 percent of whom would never see it otherwise.

It helps give our readers a frame of reference and a clue to what to expect when a mass media opportunity comes knocking. So here it is, questions for journalists to ask scientists, as prepared by Elissa Yancey of the Poynter Institute, a well-respected Florida enterprise involved in journalism training.
  • "Why does this study matter?
  • "Why did you want to do this study?
  • "How does this study relate to your other work?
  • "What was your role in the study?
  • "What surprised you the most?
  • "Did you change any of your or your family’s habits as a result of anything you learned from this study?
  • "What are the economic stakes of the study/topic from your perspective? Your employer's or funder's perspective? (i.e., whose profits / earnings might be harmed or helped by this study? Who is invested in it?)
  • "What comes next? (More studies? Different funders? Legislation?)"
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