Science media: Centre of attention

By Ewen Callaway
Nature | July 10, 2013

Fiona Fox and her Science Media Centre are determined to improve Britain’s press. Now the model is spreading around the world.

Depending on whom you ask, Fiona Fox is either saving science journalism or destroying it. But today, she is touting its benefits to a roomful of reluctant scientists. “Your voice has to be heard,” the charismatic and sometimes combative head of Britain’s Science Media Centre (SMC) tells the audience of more than 70.

Most of these scientists work at the UK Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), a sprawling government laboratory based in York, which studies hot-button issues such as pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops. FERA scientists have a reputation for being closed to the media and, this May afternoon, Fox is trying to convince them to open up. “You’re not alone, it’s scary out there,” says Fox.

That is a message that Fox has honed well since establishing the SMC in London in 2002. The centre’s aim is to get scientific voices into media coverage and policy debates — and by doing so, to improve the accuracy with which science is presented to the public. It tries to do this by providing select journalists with a steady flow of quotes and information from its database of about 3,000 scientists, and by organizing around 100 press briefings a year. “Our philosophy is we’ll get the media to do science better when scientists do the media better,” says Fox.

Click here to read the full article, Science media: Centre of attention, on the Nature website.

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