A new guidebook helps scientists promote climate science through media
For many scientists, the promotion of their research ends with publishing a report in a leading scientific journal or with presenting their findings at a prestigious conference. But communicating your findings to those whose lives you want to improve through science requires communicating the results of your work beyond this specialist bubble. This means promoting your research to the general public in all sorts of ways: from knitting to explain how cells work to performing stand-up comedies on quantum physics. To do this well, scientists need to consider who they want to address in the early stages of writing a project. It is good to think of reaching out to media, business, civil organizations, politicians, state institutions, etc.
So how do climate scientists get their points across to larger audiences and communicate the value and practical application of their work? How do they grab the attention of the media and pitch their stories successfully? Can they avoid complex terminology in order to be understandable, but remain scientifically and factually correct? If the structure of a news story is almost completely “upside down” compared to that of a scientific article, how can scientists use that?
A new guidebook by journalist, master of science in physics and experienced science communicator Mădălina Cocea navigates these questions in under 12 pages. The guidebook is called “Promotion of research topics: key strategies and ideas”. It was prepared under the international initiative "Science and Journalism for Climate Action" whose goal is to improve the quality of climate reporting in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) by fostering partnerships between scientists and journalists and encouraging them to regularly co-author stories.
Click on the cover to download the guidebook.
The initiative spans Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and Hungary. It is implemented by BlueLink Foundation (Bulgaria) in partnership with Climateka (Bulgaria), Másfélfok (Hungary), InfoClima (Romania) and Klima101 (Serbia).
The initiative sought to address several problems:
1) Climate change affects literally all aspects of our lives: from electricity bills to health bills, to our right to a safe home, clean air and water. Not surprisingly, there are already thousands of litigations globally against entire governments that fail to protect these basic human rights of their citizens. However, few of us understand the complex ways in which climate change affects us, or the extent to which fossil lobbies corrupt our governments. To make things worse, industries purposefully promote false science that says climate change isn’t real.
2) Journalists are there to expose these injustices and manipulations. However, newsrooms in Cental and Eastern Europe rarely have the luxury to employ dedicated climate reporters. This means journalists are usually pressed for time to research and finish a story fast before running to cover another. They can rarely dedicate a lot of time to consulting scientists and understanding the topic in-depth. And the topic is complex: understanding it requires understanding multiple science disciplines.
3) Meanwhile, independent scientists in CEE are both underfunded and unprepared to effectively communicate their findings in an understandable way.
This is where the initiative "Science and Journalism for Climate Action" comes in. In a little over a year, the four partners built a community of over 130 journalists and scientists willing to co-write stories and provided them with practical knowledge. Journalists were trained to understand the science behind climate change better and scientists were trained to better communicate their research to the media and general audiences. This resulted in over 120 science-based news articles covering different aspects of climate mitigation. There is now also a regional hub where scientists and journalists can work together on stories and problems that are relevant to the entire region.
The guidebook “Promotion of research topics” is a synthesis of the communication workshops for scientists. Its author, Mădălina Cocea, has helped her clients have their research featured in media outlets such as The Times, DW, Arte TV, National Geographic, ZDF and Horizon Magazine.
“For 18 years, I've been using my curiosity and my keyboard to highlight research in Romania and beyond,” said Cocea. “I enjoy every time I glimpse, hidden in expert language, a topic that I know can interest everyone.”
“We hope the guidebook will help scientists pitch their climate research successfully to large news outlets, improve their interaction with journalists and – ultimately, the quality of climate reporting,” said Pavel Antonov, executive editor at BlueLink. “Climate change is chronically underreported and misrepresented in the CEE region. This is why BlueLink dedicates much of its efforts to training experts to do better media work, as well as to improving the quality of watchdog journalism. We also strive to put civil society and nature organisations in touch with media working in the public interest in order to get more of those really important stories out.”
The initiative "Science and Journalism for Climate Action" is funded by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
Another important thing
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