[ASC-list] further to recent list conversations

Claire Harris claireharris.oz at gmail.com
Thu Jul 11 12:55:35 UTC 2013


Hiya,
I have found this discussion very interesting and it is somewhat comforting
to hear that many of us are thinking about these questions :) It is very
interesting to reflect ourselves about what it is we are trying to achieve,
or what we enjoy in our roles and then consider that against our own ideals
and ethics, as Cathy and others have mentioned.

I see some of Sarah's questions best answered through thinking of a
cross-weave where we choose the different strands in our weave as we would
different colours or textures. For example some could be 'skill strands' -
so therefore someone who's a journalist has stronger interviewing,
story-telling but perhaps not 'issues management' or 'events management'
skills strands. And then these strands overlap with other strands, say the
particular discipline strands of health, nanotech, astronomy that we
prefer. And then maybe there are the organisational/cultural strands where
there might be strands of NGO, advocacy, commercialisation, government - we
weigh up whether we like the way they work and whether their code of ethics
or principles align with our own. We all choose our weaves based on
preferences, opportunities, even the people we like working with.

So, for me, what's particularly interesting, given there are many things
that makes us (a gaggle? of science communicators) similar or different to
each other, is what are the strongest features of the value we find in
being a 'science communicator' or perhaps a science communication observer.

And just to throw another spanner in the works, in discussions with other
communicators who work in similar fields to me but don't consider
themselves science communicators, the question goes higher than a
distinction between science journalism, science communication (science
engagement, science knowledge brokering...) as to why is the word 'science'
on the front of any of these words in the first place... I think that is
very intriguing :)

Oh and I just read Jacqui's blog post and yes, great read!! I've made
similar observations over the years.

Ciao
Claire


On 11 July 2013 13:15, Sarah Keenihan <sarahkeenihan at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi again everyone,
>
> It's great hearing personal experiences in relation to this topic.
>
> Jacqui Hayes and I have been talking offline on this recently. If you're
> interested, she has written a guest piece for my blog on her recent
> experience of switching from a journalism position to one in
> communications, see: Crossing to the dark side<http://scienceforlife365.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/day-334-crossing-to-the-dark-side/>
> .
>
> Bye for now,
> Sarah
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 11/07/2013, at 12:09 PM, Angela Lush wrote:
>
> 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<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> <https://twitter.com/#!/econnectteam>  *<image002.png>*<http://www.facebook.com/pages/Econnect-Team/157913364253434>
>  ****
> ** **
> *From:* asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [
> mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au<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?<http://scienceforlife365.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/day-318-journalism-is-dead/>,
> then progressed to Journalism versus communication<http://scienceforlife365.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/day-320-journalism-versus-communication/> and
> finally resulted in this duo: Profile of a science journalist<http://scienceforlife365.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/day-321-profile-of-a-science-journalist/>
>  and Profile of a science communicator<http://scienceforlife365.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/day-322-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<http://scienceforlife365.wordpress.com/Thanks%20to%20the%20web,%20journalism%20is%20now%20something%20you%20do%20%E2%80%94%20not%20something%20you%20are> 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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