Support for scientists working with the media

Scientists keen to work with the media now have an online resource to help prepare for interviews, handle contentious issues effectively and delve into the world of social media.

savvy logoOur colleagues at the Australian Science Media Centre have developed,

a website featuring short videos, tip sheets and backgrounders aimed at scientists attempting to communicate their science via the media.

The videos feature leading scientists and journalists giving their perspectives on what makes for successful interactions with the media. The site will, over the next year, increasingly feature content from New Zealand and serve as a useful refresher for scientists who have attended the SMC’s two-day Science Media SAVVY workshop.

Videos and tip sheets

Science Media Savvy – Contentious science module preview – no text from AusSMC on Vimeo.

In tricky media situations, being prepared can make the difference between a successful interview and a train wreck. The series of videos and tip sheets Dealing with the Media offer useful insights into what the media needs and what makes for a good interview.

Social media is an incredibly useful tool for communicating science, but it can also be a major drain on your time or even worse, damaging to your reputation, if used inappropriately. The videos and tip sheets Using Social Media offer solid advice on engaging via this powerful new form of media.

Media coverage of contentious science is often dominated by strong opinions and media-savvy interest groups, so it’s precisely these areas where the voice of scientists is most needed. But entering the debate can be intimidating.

The Contentious Science videos feature mock-interviews highlighting the dos and don’ts of presenting controversial science, and case studies of true-to-life situations when researchers have found themselves at the sharp end of a media grilling.

All of the resources are available free to access, however the Contentious Science module requires a password. Scientists can contact the SMC about receiving access to this module.

New Zealand Science Media Centre manager Peter Griffin said the SAVVY website is being developed into a go-to hub of content to assist scientists communicate their science.

“What we find really helps scientists is practical examples of what works for the media and science and what doesn’t. These videos give vivid examples of both from people on both sides of the microphone.”

Science Media SAVVY workshops 

The website builds on the SMC’s efforts to support scientists through the two-day intensive media training workshops – Science Media SAVVY. Over 60 scientists have now completed the course which includes on-camera interview training, a visit to a newsroom and a pitching session with senior science journalists.

SAVVY participants have developed lasting relationships with the journalists involved and come away from the course more confident in dealing with the media and tackling live and pre-recorded interviews.

Said Griffin: “We hope to expand Science Media SAVVY in the new year and take it to the regional centres where a large number of scientists are based at universities, Crown research institutes, regional authorities and private organisations.”

The website was developed with the support of Inspiring Australia, CSIRO and the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.