From 4-6 September 2012, I attended the Journées Hubert Curien de la Culture Scientifique et Technique, an international conference on science communication, in Nancy, France. What I present are my notes from the sessions.
The Thursday morning lectures at the Journées Hubert Curien in Nancy, France included Martin Bauer of the London School of Economics on “A Crisis of Science Journalism? Evidence from International Research.” Bauer looked at the wider context of science journalism. With increased wealth in knowledge intensive sectors, investments are in the intangibles, such as knowledge. He asked if science communication was becoming known as research branding and knowledge marketing?
He also looked at the shifting roles of the science communication “actors” in society. Initially science communication came from the scientist, then post-World War II, the journalists. Bauer suggested that perhaps scientists might be remobilizing with the additions of PR/PIO/marketing assistance.
Bauer noted future challenges to science journalism and the public understanding of science. Something he said more than one was that the strength of public relations is the weakness of science journalism. Going back to what was mentioned in Ulrike Felt’s talk, another challenge is the adaption of science to a PR logic.
Following Bauer’s talk, I shifted gears to the PIO mode and attended Ashley Yeager’s presentation on the death of the news release. Yeager is a public information officer at Duke University where they have replaced the traditional news release with the media package. The media package contains a snappy headline, tight lede, colorful pictures, possibly video, an outside source, and a citation. See Brainy Lizards.
The media package is in collaboration with the scientist to simply state the research and not overhype the message. To do this effectively, the university news office must maintain good relationships with the researchers at its institution and take advantage of their resources, such as their videos and images.
Yeager noted that images significantly increase the use of the media package. Text only offers a 9-day life where one with an image or multimedia is 20 days.
Check out Gilles Grenot’s interview of Michel Claessens who is in charge of communication and outreach at ITER and spoke earlier in the week.
Previously in this series:
Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, FutureX