Much has been written about the need for better communication between scientists and journalists (as surrogates for the public), but the process by which this might happen has been left relatively unexplored. This article introduces some useful communication ground rules, starting with a premise introduced several years ago at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: "Journalists are more compelled to understand scientists than scientists are compelled to understand journalists." Once scientists understand what journalists are after, how they work, and their pressing need to understand scientists, communication becomes far easier than if there were an adversarial relationship
A thoughtful piece on communications
Sylvia Rowe, MA, is an adjunct professor at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also the president of SR Strategy, a health, nutrition, food safety, and risk communications and issue management consultancy located at Washington, DC. Previously, Ms Rowe served as president and chief executive officer of the IFIC and IFIC Foundation, nonprofit organizations that communicate science-based information of food safety and nutrition issues to health professionals, journalists, government officials, educators, and consumers.
Nick Alexander, BA, is former senior media counselor for the International Food Information Council Foundation, Washington, DC. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. A former network correspondent with ABC News, Mr Alexander has been, for the past 7½ years, tracking and writing about science communications issues and the evolving challenge to public acceptance of credible science.
Correspondence: Sylvia Rowe, MA, 1100 Connecticut Ave. NW, #1000, Washington, DC 20036 (firstname.lastname@example.org).