[ASC-media] Hype and Hoops

jtyler at scibizmedia.com.au jtyler at scibizmedia.com.au
Tue Aug 1 01:32:18 CEST 2006

  Rob Morrison's latest piece in Australasian Science (Aug 2006)  
'Excessive Hype Debases Science Communication' got me thinking.

I agree with Rob that 'breakthrough' reporting does little for the  
science report, but I also remember that when we were all in  
journalism school (and the older of us were copy people in the  
newsroom), the only way to get science into the news was to  
'outcompete the daily sensation'. We were taught the home in on a  
single, 'hard news' angle if it was to find column centimetres.

For decades this has guided how science gets bundled into the media.  
With the wholescale decline in dedicated science reporters in the  
daily news media, this has become even moreso.

On the other hand, there has been a spectacular rise in the number of  
science communicators at research centres. Having fought for  
maintianing science in the daily media for more than a decade, ASC  
has been fighting the good fight in getting science communication as  
a profession recognised. Somewehere in this timeline, grant providers  
have determined that all research should carry promotions as part of  
the grant conditions.

Tied up with this, as Rob correctly says, research organisations need  
to self promote more, both to satisfy granting bodies and to attract  
private funds and students. Hence the rise in science communicators  
being hired by research organisations - one of our profession's  
largest growth areas.

And now science communicators, as opposed to the daily media, are  
being labeled as 'spinners'.

Having jumped through the hoops to get into the media, 'spin' has now  
become the latest reason why we still have a relatively insignificant  
amount of science news in our daily media. Seems we've changed hoops.

I agree with Rob - assertions by the media editors about breakthrough  
reporting and its impact on science in the media need testing. How  
organisations handle the media needs clarification.

Guidelines and style manuals are desperately needed, and ASC  
initiative in these areas is to be applauded. In some part, these are  
our latest hoops - and I would say these are as much driven by the  
lack of response by media editors as much as by our own sense of  
needing a profession-wide standard.

Iin the context of a decline in science rounds in the daily media,  
there is no sensible rationale for why science doesn't get into the  
media more.

It's time that the media came to the table to talk about giving  
science the coverage it deserves in the daily media.

Jess Tyler
SciBiz Media

publicity • media • science conferences • training

M: 0408 298 292
E: jtyler at scibizmedia.com.au

PO Box 71
Blackmans Bay TAS 7052

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