Right Turn: The why and how of communicating science to media

Author: Stacey Johnson, 08/04/17

Engaging with the media is not for the faint of heart, but speaking on behalf of the entire world, we need you to step up scientists! Your research is important and valuable, and you may (I chose that word deliberately) be the best person to communicate it. So, while the prospect of doing a media interview might seem futile, frightening or frustrating (they got it “wrong” in the past, didn’t they?), you can’t give up – just as you don’t in the lab when your data don’t support your hypothesis.

There’s a great deal of misinformation floating around “out there” and it’s up to experts to speak up when they see that happening. Many do but more don’t. It’s crucial to debunk myths that can be harmful (vaccines cause autism is a pervasive one). As new technologies develop, we also need scientists to explain how they work in order to dispel fears and quash rumours. The hype around CRISPR and designer babies is a good example of this.

The Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) has produced a video from a science communications workshop that it held last November (2016). Lisa Willemse, of OIRM (and the founder and former co-editor of Signals), explains why scientists should communicate their science – and she means more than simply publishing in a journal. By the way, while communicating science benefits society, it also benefits you/your career.

Before you watch the video, blogger Laine Jaremey wrote about another speaker at that same workshop: Ivan Semeniuk, science reporter with The Globe and Mail. He also feels it’s essential that scientists share their work with the media. His tips for honing your message to the media can be found here. You can also watch the video on his talk here. And if you still need a push, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), offers these practical tips.

 

Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

 

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.
Stacey Johnson

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2 Responses

  1. Jay Ingram says:

    I applaud your efforts but if you’re still sticking with the outmoded and inaccurate idea that creativity comes from the right side of your brain, there’s lots of catching up to do

  2. Stacey Johnson says:

    I’m just happy you read the blog, which is the goal after all. Keep coming back and feel free to leave comments when you feel so inclined. In fact, if you’d ever like to contribute a guest post (to Right Turn or something on the science of regenerative medicine), please let me know.

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