[ASC-list] Negative connotations about journalists

Charles Willock charlesw at cse.unsw.EDU.AU
Tue Dec 11 00:16:52 UTC 2012

Hi Susan,

  Its been an interesting week ... and its only Tuesday.  

  Yesterday, I received a message via a heavyweight linguistics
  list with a blistering negative appraisal by someone who is 
  (he asserts) regularly poorly treated by journalists, 
  producers and the media.

  This wasn't the opinion of a ratbag, stirrer, troll on a half
  baked list, ... this was from one of an elite group of linguists
  at one of the top US universities.

  His appraisal went considerably further than the words you are 
  concerned about.  

  While I'm not at liberty to reproduce his mail here, a quick 
  summary might be useful.

     o.  he was misquoted
     o.  journalists gathered items to support their own agenda
         dropping key items which didn't
     o.  if the contribution didn't fit their story they 
         change it [!!!] to do so
     o.  fact checkers acting dishonestly, cowed by publishers
         supported by writers

  There were negative remarks by others on that list too.

  To my mind, the sentence you quoted does a good job of 
  expressing how many scientists think about journalists.  
  Yes, those scientists might well benefit from a better 
  understanding of the constraints of the media ...

  ... but adopting a strategy of avoiding, or misrepresenting 
  those perspectives would seem to be doing exactly what those
  individuals are concerned/angry about.  Not PR spin, but 
  Agenda spin.

  There is a further point.  In advertising, identifying the key
  issue for the reader is an effective (according to testing) 
  means of "selection" [ie getting people to read the bulk of your 
  advert].  And, that works despite the copywriter's or readers
  feelings of queeziness about an issue.  Eg an advert with a 
  headline "Do you have a smelly dog" is likely to attract many
  more readers whose dog smells, than a headline like "Are you
  still friends with your dog" or "Do you love your dog today".

  One possibility is to consider the statement as useful 
  feedback and with that as a guide address the underlying 

  That way, in the long term, your dog will smell good, your
  communications will be sweet, and everyone will have a joyous
  time of the year.

  Hmmm ...


On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 08:30:06AM +1000, Susan Kirk wrote:
> "Do you want to be able to deal with the media but too worried about them
> twisting your words or saying something negative about your research?"
> Imagine my surprise to see this headline on the ASC website?
> I'm sure as communication specialists we should be able to find a way to
> rephrase this sentence so that it's more positive of the people that support
> its foundations.
> S
> Susan Kirk   B.comm  freelance Journalist
> Member and Queensland Web Editor -  Australian Science Communicators (ASC)
> Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
> & Horticultural Media Association (Qld)  (HMAQ)
> tel: +61 7 5478 6761 | mobile: 0423342867 | email: susan at susankirk.com.au
> www.susankirk.com.au |  Skype: susanakirk | Tweet: susanakirk
> ³If you don¹t ask the right questions you won¹t get the right answers.²
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      "Creativity and innovation are measured not by what is done, 
           but by what could have been done ... but wasn't"

Disclaimer: http://www.eng.unsw.edu.au/emaildis.htm
Charles Willock                                 charlesw at cse.unsw.edu.au
c/- School of Computer Science and Engineering       
University of New South Wales,                  
New South Wales  Australia  2052    http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~charlesw

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