If you’re ever stuck trying to bridge the gap between a top academic and your average Joe Bloggs, “it’s not (going to be) very comfortable” says Karen Bidewell, Senior Media Relations Manager at Newcastle University.
“What is appealing to the former may not necessarily be of interest to the latter.”
Her talk introduced us to the struggles of balancing the scientific fact, presented by the academic, to also making it interesting for the reader; who in the North East only has an average reading age of 8.
The aim is to present a piece of scientific work that is “publically engaging”, but not a news piece littered in editorial bias. There’s a fine balance between the two.
With an accomplished media CV, Karen was well placed to inform us of the risks and rewards to a career in the industry. The rewards that stem from your attention grabbing article getting the front page slot on a national paper; to the risks of misrepresenting a piece of research and receiving criticism from experts in the field.
In fact, this mis-leading nature is already rife in our media. This Daily Telegraph article shows such an example, with the newspaper tailoring the story to a headline that although will sell copies, is not necessarily true; Ben Goldacre, science writer, reports.
So when you wake up in the morning, browse the web during lunch or settle down in the evening, would you rather read detailed academia or entertaining journalism?