[ASC-list] further to recent list conversations

Angela Lush angela at lushlogic.com.au
Thu Jul 11 02:39:23 UTC 2013


Hi all,
I've really been enjoying this discussion as its something that I think about often as well. My work spans science PR/advertising, communication, education and on occasion journalism. For me, apart from my personal ethics and bias like the aspects Cathy and Adam mentioned, I try and view the different forms of communication in the context of audience expectation. 
Would the audience expect to be reading a well researched, independently verified and balanced piece of work (journalism)? Or could they reasonably expect that some bias might be in place - be it work being shown in the best possible light - depending on the channel being used and the author or source of the work (communication/PR)?

This can sometimes be a very blurry line (eg advertorials not marked as such) but I've found that good clients want to be honest with their audience and in their communication in all forms. 

Of course this could just be me rationalising my own bias in my client work!  But I think that good work is beneficial for both the client and the audience and this responsibility to the audience is an important aspect - whether it's journalism, communication or PR/advertising. 

Cheers,

Angela


Sent from my iPhone

On 11/07/2013, at 8:03, Cathy Sage <cathy at sagewords.com.au> wrote:

> Hi. Good point Sarah... I think it would be worrying if we don't all concede we all have "bias" of some sort and work from that understanding.   I can live very comfortably with the bias I have... that is to work with scientists to help them convince people about the value of what they do..... especially when I find that many feel quite nervous about fronting the media with science of any complexity even if it's very important that people out there know. I've walked away from jobs where I've felt uncommitted and uncomfortable and told them why.... one was the opportunity 10 years ago to promote to the public the advantages of cloning animals. 
> Cheers,
> Cathy
> 
> On 10/07/2013, at 8:37 PM, Sarah Keenihan wrote:
> 
>> Hi all,
>> 
>> Perhaps my choice of the term 'biased' was a little ill-advised...
>> 
>> I guess what i was hinting at is the point Adam has raised: generally, we write about an area of science or work for a client because we feel a connection/comfortable with it. Is that bias? Not always, especially when aware of it, but perhaps sometimes it does stray close.
>> 
>> With that in mind, I'd still love to hear thoughts on what *is* the best way to define:
>> Science journalism
>> Science communication
>> Science PR
>> I'm still grappling with it all, really. 
>> 
>> Cheers,
>> Sarah
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On 10/07/2013, at 6:37 PM, Adam Barclay wrote:
>> 
>>> Hello all.
>>>  
>>> I like to think that I do communication and not PR, but I do sometimes wonder if that’s just me practising PR on myself given the not-so-rosy reputation of PR (‘the dark side’ etc) relative to good ol’ unbiased communication. I hope that if I found myself working for an organisation whose messages stuck in my craw, I’d leave. Either: a) I’ve never been in that position, or b) I’ve convinced myself that I agree with the messages. I think it’s the former, but self-perception is notoriously unreliable to say the least.
>>>  
>>> Cheers,
>>> Adam
>>>  
>>> From: Jenni Metcalfe [mailto:jenni at econnect.com.au] 
>>> Sent: Wednesday, 10 July 2013 6:17 PM
>>> To: Joanne Finlay; Sarah Keenihan
>>> Cc: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
>>> Subject: Re: [ASC-list] further to recent list conversations
>>>  
>>> Well said Joanne! My thoughts exactly.
>>>  
>>> I would certainly hope none of my writing as a journalist or communicator – depending on what hat I am wearing and I do wear both – is biased in any particular way.
>>>  
>>> I’m not about spinning anything, which is why I like to think I do journalism or communication and not PR.
>>>  
>>> Hmm bet there’s some thoughts on that!
>>>  
>>> Jenni
>>>  
>>> Jenni Metcalfe
>>> Director, Econnect Communication
>>> www.econnect.com.au
>>> phone: 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866
>>> jenni at econnect.com.au
>>> skype: jenni.metcalfe
>>> twitter: @JenniMet
>>> PO Box 734 South Brisbane Q 4101
>>> subscribe to Econnect's free monthly e-newsletter: http://www.econnect.com.au/news_newsletter.htm
>>>  
>>> <image001.png>  <image002.png> 
>>>  
>>> From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Joanne Finlay
>>> Sent: Tuesday, 9 July 2013 9:48 PM
>>> To: Sarah Keenihan
>>> Cc: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
>>> Subject: Re: [ASC-list] further to recent list conversations
>>>  
>>> Hi Sarah
>>>  
>>> I think the questions you raise are really important. 
>>>  
>>> I am curious though about your presumption that writing as a communicator for a science institutions requires taking a 'somewhat biased' position.
>>>  
>>> 
>>> Can one person effectively swap from writing as a journalist (for example, for a newspaper) to writing as a communicator (for example, for a science institution)?
>>>                         i.e. is switching from relatively unbiased to somewhat biased writing a comfortable transition?
>>>  
>>> I have always taken the view that science communicators can and should honestly and accurately report the science, no matter who we work for. The hard part is in ensuring the institution or spokesperson you are writing for doesn't claim more credit for the science than is their due. In my view it is possible to do this, and although difficult not impossible to keep all parties happy. That's where being ethical as a science communicator comes in.
>>>  
>>> All sounds like good ASC conference fodder.
>>>  
>>> Cheers
>>>  
>>> Jo Finlay
>>> Journalist, writer and science communicator
>>>  
>>> On 08/07/2013, at 4:03 PM, Sarah Keenihan wrote:
>>>  
>>> 
>>> Dear fellow members of the Australian Science Communicators,
>>> 
>>> Like Lynn and Bianca, I too am very interested in considering perpectives on science journalism and science communication, and how the two interrelate.
>>> 
>>> It interests me on a personal level because I’m trying to work out where I fit along the science writing continuum. However of course there are also bigger implications. Implications for:
>>> 
>>>             • How we (the people who talk about science) define our goals;
>>>             • How we, governments and consumers make decisions about who pays for communication and journalism content;
>>>             • How the public interprets material with a scientific flavour; and
>>>             • Whether this material has the desired or indeed any impact.
>>>  
>>> I’ve written a few blog posts in recent weeks trying to get my brain around aspects of this. (If you’re interested, it started with Journalism is dead?, then progressed to Journalism versus communication and finally resulted in this duo: Profile of a science journalist and Profile of a science communicator. Of course my descriptions are not perfect – please add comments if you feel so inspired).
>>> 
>>> Whilst I’ve found the process of writing these posts helpful in clarifying my own thoughts, of course now I have more questions.
>>> 
>>> What I’m really interested in is the intersection of the two specialities, communication and journalism. Here are some issues which plague me:
>>> 
>>>             • In writing and reading job definitions or descriptions, how can one distinguish between a ‘science journalist’ and a ‘science communicator’?
>>>             • Can one person effectively swap from writing as a journalist (for example, for a newspaper) to writing as a communicator (for example, for a science institution)?
>>>                         i.e. is switching from relatively unbiased to somewhat biased writing a comfortable transition?
>>>             • Is it important that science writers themselves have an awareness of the difference between science journalism and science communication?
>>>             • How can readers of science writing tell the difference between science journalism and science communication?
>>>  
>>> Related questions are being raised in other arenas as well: see this piece by Matthew Ingram entitled Thanks to the web, journalism is now something you do – not something you are which explores the relationships between advocacy/activism and journalism.
>>> 
>>> Getting back to the ASC, are these questions important for us to consider as a community of people who talk about science in public spaces? I think yes, and I’m hoping this may come up as a potential topic for the ASC conference in February 2014. In addition to hearing from communicators and journalists who are ASC members, it’d be great to invite ‘outsiders’ along to get their perspectives as well.
>>> 
>>> I’m looking forward to the conference.
>>> 
>>> Regards,
>>> 
>>> Sarah
>>> Sarah Keenihan
>>> PhD | BMedSci | GradDipSciComm
>>> 
>>> Reading, writing and interpreting science. And other stuff. 
>>> 
>>> 0419 976 834 | @sciencesarah | http://sciencesarah.wordpress.com/
>>>  
>>> Special Project: Science For Life.365
>>> http://scienceforlife365.wordpress.com| http://www.facebook.com/scienceforlife365
>>>  
>>>  
>>>  
>>>  
>>>  
>>>  
>>>  
>>> 
>>>  
>>> On 05/07/2013, at 7:40 AM, Bianca Nogrady wrote:
>>>  
>>> 
>>> Thanks for posting this Lynne - it's an interesting read.
>>>  
>>> At the risk of opening a can of worms, I'm intrigued by the fact that a number of science journalists take the stand that they are not a 'cheer squad' for science, as Pallab Ghosh is described as saying in this article.
>>>  
>>> I understand very well that the job of a good science journalist is to ask the hard questions, to look critically at the data, to ask where the money come from and not to assume that science is truth.
>>>  
>>> But this assertion that one is not a cheerleader for science feels almost like a statement of emnity, like we have to take a stand against the hordes of pom-pom waving fanatics.
>>>  
>>> Isn't it possible to be both? I'm proud to proclaim that I'm an unrepentant science nerd. I love science and the process of scientific discovery and the knowledge that comes from that, and I'm always raving to friends about some amazing new bit of info I've discovered.
>>>  
>>> I'm very happy to stand up and trumpet 'Hooray for Science!' but I don't think this makes me any less of an effective journalist.
>>>  
>>> I'd be really interested to know people's thoughts on this.
>>>  
>>> Bianca
>>>  
>>> 
>>> On 5 July 2013 07:26, Griffiths, Lynne <Lynne.Griffiths at nwc.gov.au> wrote:
>>> Hi ASC
>>> 
>>> SciDev.Net has launched a new-look website - http://www.scidev.net/global/.  Their latest editorial features a discussion on science journalism and communication in the global context -http://www.scidev.net/global/communication/editorial-blog/science-journalism-and-communication-make-a-good-match.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=SciDev.Net&utm_campaign=2679242_Launch+email+EN&utm_content=KazEditorial&dm_i=1SCG,1LFBE,AZRIZP,5IAH7,1
>>> 
>>> There are related articles that may be of interest - http://www.scidev.net/global/communication/
>>> 
>>> Cheers
>>> 
>>> Lynne Griffiths
>>> Director, Communication and Parliamentary Liaison
>>> National Water Commission 
>>> T 02 6102 6023   M 0412 786 945
>>> lynne.griffiths at nwc.gov.au
>>> nwc.gov.au
>>> 
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> 
> Cathy Sage
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