Helpful hints for scientists
Before the Science Media Centre opened, we spent three months consulting with people who work in different areas of the New Zealand media. We asked them if they would like to cover more science and technology stories and, with rare exception, those consulted said yes. Some of their comments were:
- “I like the idea of shining a spotlight on what scientists are doing.”
- “We want more profiles of the people involved and achievers.”
- “We would like things for our snippets pages – bits of research that would be interesting to our readers.”
- “I would like stories of cleverness and originality.”
- “People who are doing things are more interesting than ‘what’ they are doing”
- “Yes, if it’s interesting and a good yarn.”
- “I am interested in the impact that science and technology can have, not the science itself.”
- “I want stories of science that is important to the economy and society”
We thought this was great, so then we asked ‘what are the barriers to covering more science and technology stories’? Their most common answers were:
- We don’t know the stories exist.
- We don’t know who to contact.
- We find it hard to figure out the relevance of the story to our readers/viewers/listeners.
Those are pretty big barriers – and part of the goal of the Science Media Centre is to help break them down. More barriers came up when we asked about what happens when work on a story begins. The most common complaint was that that the scientific community doesn’t understand how the media works; specifically, those in the media said that there is a lack of appreciation of deadlines and an expectation of being able to approve copy before it goes to print (the scientific community could probably complain that the media doesn’t understand it either, and the Science Media Centre is working on that part of the equation, too).
Standing Up For Science was written as a guide to the media for early career scientists, but is a useful tool for all scientists.