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18 Jun, 2018

Seminar: Science and the media- the view from the front line

If you have ever worked with the media on a new science story, you may have noticed that sometimes, the end article does not read the way you had hoped. You may also have found yourself in the middle of an argument that was founded on inaccurate science.

In a society that is heavily influenced by the ‘news of the day’ and what will get the most media attention, as scientists, how do we ensure the right story is told to the public?

The Science Media Centre (SMC) is helping the media to do science better by getting scientists to do the media better. An independent charity founded in London, UK, the SMC believes scientists can have a huge impact on the way the media cover scientific issues by engaging quickly and effectively with the stories that are influencing public debate and attitudes to science.

The Centre works with journalists to provide them with information about science and its related disciplines, making it easier for them to gain access to the best science and scientists when science stories are making the headlines. They also work with scientists, engineers and other experts, to support them to engage with the media, creating more opportunities for them to get their voices heard on the big science, health and environment stories of the day. In addition, the Centre supports reporters when they are working on complex science, health and environment stories and provides expert advice and evidence on issues relating to science in the media.

Fiona Fox, Chief Executive of the Science Media Centre in the UK, will describe the function of the SMC and show through real case studies how scientists changed what the public saw by engaging. Fiona has a degree in journalism and 30 years of experience working in media relations for high profile national organisations. Her career includes stints working for the Equal Opportunities Committee, National Council for One Parent Families, and CAFOD.

Kevin Folta is a world-renowned plant scientist with extensive experience in science communications, and managing controversial topics such as biotechnology, GMOs and genome editing by making them accessible to a lay audience. Kevin is Professor and Chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Kevin has been recognized for his science communication efforts, speaking with public audiences, and training scientists and agricultural producers to be better communicators. In 2016 he was recognized with the prestigious CAST Borlaug Award in Agricultural Communications and was named as the Ag Pro Person of the Year.  He also hosts the weekly podcast Talking Biotech (www.talkingbiotechpodcast.com). 

Kevin is no stranger to controversy and public debate. Once targeted by a number of anti-biotech organizations and subjected to a number of “freedom of information” petitions, Kevin become an even stronger communicator and an advocate for sound science being used to inform public policy and benefit society. Kevin’s courageous contributions have helped thousands of scientists, who need to communicate their science and innovations in order to meet the needs of a growing global population.

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Room 1150, Health Sciences Building, U of S Campus