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Comments made by workinsync

Hype Vs. Fact In Science News

I want to let people know about Montana State's MFA degree in Science and Natural History Filmmaking. The premise of the graduate program is to take folks with science backgrounds and train them in filmmaking, and it's based on trying to close that gap between scientists and media. I have an undergraduate degree in Astronomy as well as this filmmaking degree, and it is a great combination. I worked at NASA for many years as a TV Producer for the Astrophysics department, and each time I would meet with a new scientist, there would be some level of distrust, a certain amount of holding back at what they would say. Then, after they discovered my background, they would perk up, get a smile on their face and start talking about their research candidly. It always made a big difference.
I think having programs like MSU's that create hybrid journalist-scientists is essential in closing that gap.

At the same time, the general media needs more training in basic science principles, and the scientists need media training. From living on both sides, what I have found is that both scientists and media are being unreasonable and misunderstanding eachother's concerns and needs.

Media folks: you need to be respectful of the fact that one little word in your story can change a scientific meaning completely, and scientists are trusting you with their reputation - which is the currency of a scientific career.

Science folks: you need to accept the fact that journalists and newscasters are writing for the general public, not your colleagues, and that the general public's support is essential to getting funding for your research.

December 2, 2009 at 10:14 a.m. ( | suggest removal )