WEDNESDAY, 3 OCTOBER 2012The scientific celebrity is not a new phenomenon, but as ever more scientists are spending time telling the public about their work, questions about what popular scientific reporting should offer have become increasingly prescient. How strictly should scientific comment be regulated? Where is the correctly balance between providing information and offering entertainment? And perhaps most importantly, what does good scientific reporting look like? In order to find answers to these questions the BlueSci committee decided to launch the [POPULAR science] series of talks.
Our previous speakers have come from a broad range of areas within science communication, and talked about a wide variety of subjects. Our first speaker Tim Radford, former science editor for the Guardian, described his experience of the shift toward online journalism and the resulting accelerated pace of reporting. Gareth Mitchell provided us with an insight into the challenges of radio broadcasting, while presenter and BlueSci alumnus Greg Foot shared with us his journey up the rungs of the television broadcasting ladder.
As well as providing advice on how to communicate science the talks are also a forum to debate problems with science journalism. Often there seems to be a trade off in the media between delivering scientific reporting that is representative of the scientific consensus and capturing the imagination of the general public, something that was discussed by BBC journalist Vivienne Parry in her talk last year.
One thing all of our speakers agreed on was that the most important thing to think about when communicating science is what makes a good story. You need to capture the readers attention with a strong headline and then retain their interest by thinking carefully about the most interesting way to present the relevant scientific facts and findings.
Helen Gaffney was BlueSci’s Events and Publicity officer from 2010-2011. The current officer is Jordan Ramsey. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BlueSci organises the [POPULAR Science] series of talks which explore the importance of direct communication between the academic community and the general public in modern society. Talks are open to everyone. Information about upcoming talks can be found on the BlueSci website (BlueSci.co.uk). You can also keep up to date with the latest BlueSci events on Twitter (@BlueSci) or on our Facebook page.