As Newcastle University Press Officer, Karen Bidewell constantly receives papers from the university about its research. It is important to write an interesting press release in order to get the attention of the news and to raise the profile of the university.
There are always hot topics in the news that sell. At the moment this appears to be anything to do with alzheimer’s, cancer, and of course, any virus that may mutate and end up killing us all.
But what about the research that doesn’t sound as interesting? Just because it isn’t controversial or about the ‘popular’ diseases doesn’t mean that the public doesn’t need to know.
In Europe over 2 million people suffer from Crohn’s disease and yet when was the last time you heard it mentioned in the news? There are constant developments being made with potential treatments, and yet an internet search comes up with several health sites, and a few hits for medical news sites. As for where the public normally gets its news from, I could only find two: The Irish Times talking about research at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and the Daily Mail which was the only major newspaper to report that a bacteria sometimes found in milk could be associated with the disease. This could lead to potential vaccines or reduce the number of sufferers, and yet it seemed that no one was interested. By no one, I exclude the researchers who have written the hundreds of papers on the topic.