Science communication: from the field to the press

The reasons for sharing research with the media are relatively widely known: If a certain research topic is going to be highlighted as an important issue, then it needs to be shared with the public. And reporters are one of the best ways to give research exposure. The question, then, is what makes research newsworthy?

David Lodge from the University of Notre Dame, Maywa Montenegro from Seed Magazine and Natasha Gilbert from Nature News addressed this question yesterday at the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) 95th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh. The session titled “Meet the Press: talking ecology with the media” focused on presenting researchers with tips to effectively communicate their research to the press and provided audience members with an opportunity to pitch their research and receive instant feedback.

The panelists had several suggestions for coordinating with the media, including considering the time crunch that some reporters may be facing and using metaphors and examples to help conceptualize your research.

As Montenegro recommended,

Don’t jump into the interview without first being aware of what kind of publication this story will appear in, and what kind of story it will be. Are you speaking with a New York Times reporter? A Nature News writer? A Huffington Post blogger? A media intern from Fox News? Knowing this will not only help you gauge how technical to go with the description of your work, it will cue you in as to what your interviewer is likely to be interested in reporting on.

Patrick Shirey from the University of Notre Dame concluded the session with a pitch on the research he will be presenting at the ESA meeting on the sale of endangered plants. His contributed oral session entitled “Implications of commercial trade for assisted colonization of endangered plants” will take place on Friday, August 6.