In the thick of it

Linda Nordling with George Claassen, a South African science journalist and lecturer

This afternoon I (Linda) joined a panel of two eminent journalists and one chap from the South African Department for Science and Technology to speak about the role of the media and how academies can, or should, engage with them. It was a welcome opportunity for those of us who usually sit in the audience taking notes to have a say and listen to the gripes of scientists.

We covered a lot, including the importance of building and nurturing relationships with key journalists and of being prepared for tough questions. I’m not sure the gathered academicians appreciated being told to go out there and ‘be sexy’ in order to win the hearts of journalists — although to clarify, the comment was offered tongue in cheek.

Personally, it brought home to me the importance of sending the stories I write back to the contributors that help me with their tales and experiences (after they have been published, not before! – just to clarify). I think that we journalists, chasing our deadlines, become arrogant about showing the results to the people who help us with our investigations.

Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net columnist

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