Communicating Complex Science to the Press

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25th Annual Meeting of the Superfund Research Program
Communicating Complex Science to the Press
A Science Communication Workshop
for Members of the SRP Research Translation and Community Engagement Cores
October 24, 2012
Marriott City Center, Raleigh, NC

Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program: A Case Study
Brian Jackson & Laurie Rardin, Dartmouth College
Even with communications planning, the press response to potentially controversial research findings can sometimes go awry. The Dartmouth SRP team discovered this the hard way after the release of a paper in Environmental Health Perspectives earlier this year. Team leaders will discuss their findings, the media response, and the lessons learned from their experience.

Talking to the Media: A Primer on Developing Clear Messages for the News Media
Helen Chickering-Nicholls
The key to a successful science communication strategy is to understand the needs of the news media and to provide them with clear and concise messages. Chickering-Nicholls, a freelance reporter and producer for NBC News and advisory board member for the Medical and Science Journalism Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will provide tips for developing an effective strategy for communicating your research to the news media.

Breakout Session: Framing a National Message
Helen Chickering-Nicholls, NBC News; Tyler Dukes, Reporters’ Lab; Susan Booker, Environmental Health Perspectives; Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute
Participants will break into five groups. All groups will work with the same source material and develop 3-5 bullet points to identify and revise (as needed) the message from a single source.  Coaches will circulate among the groups to offer assistance.

Report Out: Critiques of National Messages
A representative from each group will summarize the key messages developed by the group. Coaches will provide constructive critiques and feedback on the groups’ work.

Breakout Session: Framing the Local Message
Helen Chickering-Nicholls, NBC News; Tyler Dukes, Reporters’ Lab; Susan Booker, Environmental Health Perspectives; Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute
Participants will gather together to develop targeted messages regarding specific research themes that are likely to resonate with public audiences: Effect of Toxicants on Development/Reproduction; Effects of Toxicants on the Environment; Toxicants and Nutrition; Risk Assessment/Remediation; Complex Exposures. Each group will develop up to five concise messages to describe the goals, outcomes, and/or significance of related projects within that theme. Coaches will circulate among the groups to offer assistance.

Report Out: Critiques of Local Messages
A representative from each group will summarize the key messages developed by the group. Coaches will provide constructive critiques and feedback on the groups’ work.