[ASC-list] further to recent list conversations

Bianca Nogrady bianca at biancanogrady.com
Fri Jul 12 06:03:40 UTC 2013


And while we're at it, here's an interesting article from the New York
Times about the difference between 'journalist' and 'activist', which I
think has relevance to this discussion:

http://nyti.ms/13SKZnN

This phrase struck a chord with me: "The notion of journalist as political
and ideological eunuch seems silly, even to some who call themselves
journalists."

b


On 12 July 2013 11:46, Rob Morrison <rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au> wrote:

>  It is, of course, not a case always of being one or the other. In some
> of my media training sessions with researchers I remind them of that little
> box on ARC/NHMRC and other grant application forms that says something
> like: "In 150 words suitable for a general audience, describe your intended
> project."This requirement is becoming more and more common in grant
> applications.
>
> I have reviewed many of these and, in my experience, it is often the worst
> bit of thew application, done in a hurry and (one suspects) in great
> annoyance, and sometimes consisting of no more than a crude cut-and-paste
> of part of the application itself.
>
> Fatal! This may be one of the most important parts of the application as
> tired reviewers, faced with a stack of applications and little time, will
> look at this first. If it doesn't capture their attention and enthusiasm,
> you can imagine in what frame of mind they will plough through the rest of
> the application, especially when their chief job is in working out who to
> reject as there are so many more applications than there is money to
> support them. Why help to rule yourself out at the start by putting you
> reviewer off?
>
> To work well, this box needs to draw on the journalistic skills of
> brevity, clarity, making an indifferent reader want to engage etc etc. In
> other words, even if a researcher does no more in science communication
> that learn how to apply journalistic/science communications skills to this
> aspect of their research work, they will have gained greatly.
>
>  Dr Rob Morrison
> rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
> Phone: (08) 8339 3790
> Fax: (08)8339 6272
>   ------------------------------
> *From:* asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [
> asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] on behalf of Claire Harris [
> claireharris.oz at gmail.com]
> *Sent:* Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:25 PM
> *To:* Sarah Keenihan
> *Cc:* Cathy Sage; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au; Jenni Metcalfe; Adam Barclay
>
> *Subject:* Re: [ASC-list] further to recent list conversations
>
>  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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********************************************************
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www.biancanogrady.com, 0411 420 913, Blackheath, NSW, Australia

*The End: The Human Experience of Death* (Random House Australia, May 2013)
www.theendbook.net, Twitter: @TheEndBook

*The Sixth Wave**: How to Succeed in a Resource-Limited World *(Random
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