Two nations divided by a common purpose

by Colin Macilwain,
Nature | March 15, 2012 | Vol. 483

Plans to replicate Britain’s Science Media Centre in the United States are fraught with danger, warns Colin Macilwain. Marks & Spencer. Oasis. Football (proper football) for the first hundred years. The list of great British ideas to fall flat on their faces in the United States is a lengthy one. It is a rollcall of infamy that sprang to mind last month, when plans emerged to establish a Science Media Centre in the United States.

The original Science Media Centre (SMC) began in London in 2002. It offers the media a clearing house for scientific briefings and packaged quotes from scientists. On its own terms, it has been an outstanding success. A combination of factors lies behind this impact: the energy of the centre’s staff; the backing of sponsors, including scientific societies, major corporations and most governmental and nongovernmental research funders; and a close-knit London media circle.

Science media centres similar, but not identical, to that in London already exist in locales as far apart as Australia, Canada and Japan. But it seems to me, as someone who has worked as a reporter and an editor on both sides of the Atlantic, that there are formidable obstacles to a successful introduction of the concept to the United States.

Click here to read the full article, Two nations divided by a common purpose (PDF).

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