A stimulating start to the module! Our first guest speaker was Newcastle universities’ own Karen Bidwell. Karen’s rather official job title (Senior media relations manager for medical sciences) may suggest the talk was overly professional. Quite the opposite… Whilst drawing from personal experiences Karen gave us a humorous and fascinating insight into the world of science media.
It is the responsibility of Newcastle University to spread scientific breakthroughs into the community. Karen’s science communication role, in layman’s terms is; to convert this complex science into bite-size chunks for public digestion. This is crucial considering the average reading age in the North East is eight years old!
Writing press releases involves working with an academic lead to explain their research accurately and in a clear, catchy manor. The aim is to seduce a journalist into using your story. Great tips for writing press releases are available online. Karen, like most press office employees, has a keen eye for a good story, having formerly worked as a journalist. Journalists seek shocking and controversial science stories. The Daily mail is renowned for only using bizarre science stories to attract readers. Such as this article about scientists designing ‘’aliens’’, which turns accredited scientific findings into quite ridiculous claims.
Karen went on to explain that academics tend not to enjoy media work…often causing conflict. It does beg the question whether we as a nation should be better scientifically educated. But for now academics must play the game of the media.
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