According to a report in this month's issue of The Scientist, there are many reasons why scientists should speak to reporters, and why doing so can help your career.
Get tips from leading science reporters, producers and other communications experts on how you can get the most out of interactions with the press, and why taking a call from a reporter is worth your time.
“I don’t think it’s important [to talk to reporters], I think it’s essential,” says Brandeis University’s Gregory Petsko, who served as past president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “The public puts us in the lab. They spend their money to allow us to do what we love to do.” Since taxpayers fund the majority of research, it’s scientists’ responsibility to communicate the science on which the money is spent, says Petsko.
It raises your profile with journal editors and funders
Editors of high-impact journals don’t just look for the best research, they also look for research they think will catch the eyes of editors at the New York Times. If they see that your lab publishes the kinds of studies that appear on the radar screens of science journalists, they may be more prone to look favorably on your next submission. The same is true of some granting agencies.
Your bosses will love it
“Our institutions love publicity,” says Ransohoff. “We get local credibility and a type of celebrity within our institution.” Having your research covered by media outlets can translate to recognition and validation within your department that may ultimately help you win departmental resources.
You may pick up grant-writing tips
Journalists have an eye for distilling the details—a skill that increasingly shorter grant applications place at a premium. “We’re in a completely new era of grant preparation and review,” says Ransohoff. With applications for National Institutes of Health grants recently trimmed from 25 pages to 12, researchers and reviewers must briefly emphasize a project’s significance and innovation—concepts that science writers routinely think about. Scientists will benefit from seeing how a seasoned journalist distills years of work and a long manuscript into a readable, 500-word article.
Click here to read the full article, or see pages 40-45 in the September issue of The Scientist.