[ASC-media] Journalists see scientists as passionate and trustworthy - but lacking media savvy

Jenni Metcalfe jenni at econnect.com.au
Mon May 30 11:05:53 EST 2005

A survey of journalists across Australia shows that journalists generally have a favourable view of scientists - seeing them as passionate and trustworthy.

The survey was sent to about 1200 media outlets across Australia with 114 journalists responding to the web survey, most of them being science journalists (91 or almost 80%).

Most of the journalists (81%) indicated they contacted scientists consistently or sometimes receiving good quality information (90% said consistently or sometimes).

A number of questions in the survey asked journalists about their view of scientists, and most journalists responded that scientists were (consistently or sometimes) passionate about their work (113), trustworthy (111), and helpful to the media (102).

A significant number of journalists also said that scientists were (consistently or sometimes):
* unlikely to be able to explain their work clearly without using jargon (99)
*cared more about their peers than what the public thought (90)
*were removed from the concerns of ordinary people (77) 
*did not understand how the media worked (71) 
*were more concerned about funding than making a difference (67) 
*were likely to hype or exaggerate their work (50)

"The results of this survey show how important it is to get scientists to communicate to the public using the media," said Jenni Metcalfe, Director of Econnect Communication who conducted the survey.

"It also indicates that scientists need skills in distilling their messages in a way that journalists and thus the general public can understand."

The journalists responding to the survey were split about whether scientists earn good money or not, with just over half (69) saying they did consistently or sometimes and the remainder (45) saying rarely or never.

The majority of survey respondents (95) thought their own media outlet consistently or sometimes provided good coverage of research and development issues. 

"Given that most of the survey respondents were science journalists working for speciality outlets, this is probably not surprising," said Jenni Metcalfe. "Other journalists working for mainstream media, such as national or state newspapers, were less satisfied with the coverage their publications gave to research and development."

An initial Expert Guide of Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) researchers is available as hard copy or in an electronic version and includes the six CRC sectors: Environment, Medical, Manufacturing, Agriculture, IT and Communications, and Mining and Energy. 

For a copy of the CRC Expert Guide and for further information contact: Jenni Metcalfe; Phone 0408 551 866; jenni at econnect.com.au

Jenni Metcalfe
Econnect Communication
PO Box 734
South Brisbane Q 4101

Ph. 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866
jenni at econnect.com.au

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