When journalists call, are you ready to comment?

Do you ignore phone or email messages from science or medical reporters, hoping they won’t call back?

If you don’t call back, will they share inaccurate information with the public?

If you do call back, are you contributing to a clear understanding of a topic, or adding to the general confusion about a discovery’s importance or impact?

Ed Yong, award winning journalist and National Geographic blogger, acknowledges, “there’s a lot of nervousness about giving comments to journalists.”

He has shared some tips he believes will bring some clarity to science reporting.   You can effectively participate, provide information that will help the public, and give context to new discoveries.  You can prevent misunderstanding.

hnrHealth journalist Gary Schwitzer was so discouraged by the poor quality of health news reporting, he established HealthNewsReview.org and established 10 principles for quality reporting.  He, and a group of reviewers rate news stories about health innovations and discoveries using these principles. They believe that communicating these 10 elements can help the public better understand scientific and medical discoveries and their potential impact on all our lives. Keeping these 10 principles in mind when you are called for background or comment may help you improve reporting, and save clinical colleagues from an onslaught of unnecessary patient calls and questions!

The Library also offers three books that offer tips, training, and illustrations of how to communicate science more effectively to the public or the media:

You can help improve the quality of science understanding with just a few simple and effective tools.  In an era of apathy about science education, if you don’t help the public learn, who will?

[Lynne M. Fox, Education Librarian]