Scientists to get “Savvy” with the Media

By Ian McDonald 

Want advice on how to interact with the media? is a website dedicated to training scientists on such issues. With scientific research relying heavily on both private and public funding, this website will be a major tool in increasing scientist’s awareness of how to interact positively with the media.

The Science Media Centre (SMC) launched the website at the CSIRO Discovery Centre on Thursday the 1st of November. The event, co-sponsored by Inspiring Australia, introduced the 1st module of the website designed to help scientists work with media. Robyn Williams, ABC Radio Science Broadcaster, lead the event and said the website will be a tremendous aid to all scientists. CSIRO funded the first module of this website, being an organisation in Australia who rely heavily on emerging relationships with the media and getting their research into the public domain. The SMC are now working on a second module to inform scientists on how to effectively use social media as a communication tool and a third module which will focus on particular hot research topics.

George Negus, Journalist and TV presenter, was a notable speaker at the event who said that hardly a minute goes by where science isn’t used in our existence; however the biggest issue is that the media tends to stay away. He goes on to say that while scientists don’t like to dumb things down, using jargon is a big turn off for the media and using simple language is much more enticing to both them and the public. A message that can sometimes fall on deaf ears when dealing with high profile scientists who don’t like the idea of “dumbing down” their research.

Susannah Elliot, head of SMC, said the site is dedicated to these types of scientists and has tips from those who have had experience working with the media including Laureate Professor Peter Doherty who went to instant fame when winning a Nobel Prize in 1996. As well as tips “from the other side” including George Negus, Robyn Williams and Emily Rice. It is a series of short videos and is designed to build on knowledge developed in courses. It is particularly useful for those wanting to refresh their media skills before an event or interview. It was a general consensus at the launch that the website will be a tremendous aid to scientists in all fields and everyone is looking forward to the second and third modules to be released at a later date.