Thursday, May 7, 2009

How do you talk to a journalist?

“Where is the news?” That was the question researchers were encouraged to ask themselves when dealing with the media in a session close to my own heart, 'Bringing research to the media: hints and tips from successful projects'. Eric Karstens from the European Journalism Centre had some insider tricks to pass on to budding media stars in the audience. News values should be your watch word: is your work innovative, unambiguous, does it have the ‘wow’ factor? Don’t necessarily wheel out the project head to speak to a journalist, pick out your best communicator from the team, who is close to the day-to-day work. Don’t make a busy journalist on deadline work too hard – write your press releases in an accessible way and provide the ‘hooks’ that will draw in the reader. Try to think like a journalist or lay person - in fact, why not rope in your colleagues from different disciplines to ask you the obvious questions that you’ve missed?

Karstens also introduced a new approach to journalistic training championed by the EJC – innovative journalism. Journalists are being trained to take a horizontal and proactive approach to reporting research and to wander off their usual beats, even to take a stance rather than giving a neutral overview. According to Karstens, this helps make them stakeholders in the research, creating a new kind of partnership between reporter and researcher. “Embed the journalists in R&D from the start!” enthused Karstens. Initiatives to take journalists straight to the horse’s mouth include RELATE, which sends reporters into major European labs to find their stories direct from the source. Clearly believers in catching them young, My Science, exhibiting at Research Connection 09, will be offering 90 young journalists from all over Europe workshops in topics ranging from ICT and stem cell research to renewable energy and chemistry, delivered by the scientists working at the cutting edge. The workshops start in December 2009, so if you know any up and coming journalists with a keen interest in science – sign them up!

1 comment:

DVenton said...

Wow! This sounds like a great session. Thanks for the update Catherine.