‘Standing up for Science Media Workshop' raises the importance of a good relationship between science and the media
The ‘Standing up for Science Media Workshop' organised by Sense About Science on 19th November in Edinburgh brought together early career researchers from areas of the sciences, engineering, medicine and the social sciences with the conviction of importance to communicate good science and evidence to the wider audience.
Within the historical surroundings of the Royal Society, 40 participants engaged in the discussion about science-related controversies in media reporting with practical guidance and tips of how to deal with the media.
The exploration of the relationship between the science and the media was guided by a panel of senior scientists and provided valuable insight into the dealings of scientists with the media. Learning how to deal with the media is a process that takes practice and can be challenging for young and senior researchers alike. Establishing and maintaining a professional and beneficiary relationship is a two-way process of listening and understanding that can be fruitful for both sides. Ensuring that this relationship is maintained in that state, the panel suggested that scientists might find it helpful to assume that nothing is off the record.
In contrast, the panel of journalists conveyed a message of camaraderie and openness for an informal chat with scientists about their work. Amidst the message of goodwill the journalists did provided advice on how they approach stories, balance the need for news and entertainment with reporting science, and deal with accusations of polarising debates and misrepresentations of facts. However, the consequences for journalists in comparison to scientists for misrepresentation of information was largely muted by the journalist panel.
On what appears to be uneven ground, what is there for early career researchers to play for? The task of getting your voice heard, defending your research or responding to bad science can be problematic and daunting. The discussion provided advice on what can researchers do to encourage good science and evidence in the public domain. Remember that as a researcher no one is alone as there are like-minded researches, bodies and organisations such as Sense about Science there to provide advice.
Sense About Science is a charitable trust, founded in 2002, with the goal of promoting an evidence-based approach to scientific issues in the public domain. Through the Voice of Young Science programme Sense About Science strives to help research scientists at the early stage of their career to get involved in public debates about sciences.
The next Standing up for Science media workshop will be held on 11th March 2011 at the University of Manchester. If you are interested in applying please get in contact with Julia Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about VoYS and how to get involved, visit http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/VoYS/