This is the sequel to my previous post (Why Scientists should avoid Journalists) and I recommend you read that first. If you already did, you may think I got brain washed over night. But no! There are always two sides (at least) of a story.
So, dear science colleagues, why should we not avoid journalists? The answer is hidden in the previous post. We scientists often have problems communicating. Our job is the perfect environment to happily dabble around in our muddy samples, develop hypotheses, measure, quantify, and scribble down our thoughts, without ever thinking about the outside world. Of course, it’s not really favourable behaviour, but you can get away with it, more often than not.
But the point is: For whom are you doing that research? For you own pleasure? Well, that’s OK as long as you have someone in your lab who can communicate these exciting results. Otherwise, that knowledge is lost. Communication in science is essential, but often neglected. People write awful publications, I did that too. That is something most of us have to learn. You can write good papers? But who else than the people in your own field of research know what you are doing? You think that’s not important? Then I have two questions for you:
1.) Where do you get your funding from? (Answer: It’s usually tax-payer money)
2.) Why do you do research? (Answer: Because you are curious and because you think its important stuff)
So why, do you think, it is not important to communicate you results to a broader audience? I can’t think of a single branch of research that would be totally unimportant to the broader public, such stuff would hardly get funded (I’m sticking my foot in my mouth right now). To say it as it is: You get paid by the public to do research that is important to the public. Now tell me again why you think it’s not important to communicate your results?
|Scientist talking to random person|
I know, I know, it’s hard to explain our stuff to non-scientists. But hey! What do we have science journalists for? Yes! I mean it! But you have to leave you comfort zone and do SOME communication. You don’t trust journalists? You think they will screw up your story? Well, it’s in your hands. As you are the source, you have some control. You determine which information journalists get. I know, some don’t even read the abstract of your paper before they report on it, leave alone interview you. That happens. I’m not saying you have to hug every journalist that comes around the corner. If you throw yourself in the arms of someone from the tabloids, don’t complain afterwards that they got it all wrong. Try to work together with journalists; they can help you raise your impact tremendously. That also helps with funding your next science project.