Skip to main content

Article Category

Article available in the folowing languages:

Media-friendly scientists

Scientists work on important public issues that should be covered in the media. An EU project is training scientists to more productively engage with the media.

Digital Economy

Nutrition and food science issues increasingly affect public debates. The scientists who did the research are clearly best equipped to explain it, while the media has an important role to play in disseminating the information. Often, however, the complex subject material and short news segment lengths combine to cause over-simplification and misrepresentation. Scientists thus sometimes find the media process unsatisfactory. Helping to resolve the conflict is the 'Media actions for international training of researchers' (MAITRE) project. The 4-member project commenced in April 2011 and finished in March 2013. The project concept was essentially a media skills training programme for scientists. The project equipped researchers with the skills necessary to interact with the media about food science topics, and was structured across four phases. MAITRE first focused on creating plans for dissemination. In the project's initial months, it developed materials aimed at promoting its existence in order to attract participants. Foremost was the project website. It functions as a dissemination tool, as a medium between journalists and researchers, and as an information repository for training materials and subject-specific literature. The project identified media best practices as indicators for training. It established a methodological framework for selecting training activities, and a similar framework for the scientists' selection. The project also identified several priority food science topics, which were incorporated into the training and seminar programmes. The training programme consisted of initial development followed by implementation. The project hosted 14 seminars in its first 18 months. MAITRE also assessed its progress, in terms of impact on beneficiaries and achievement of project aims. It developed two different forms, seeking feedback from researchers immediately after the seminars and then six to eight months later. The feedback was used to improve the seminars. The project's legacy will be a pool of food science researchers trained in media skills. They will be better equipped to work with the media to communicate their important work to the widest possible audience. This will promote greater public engagement with the research fields.

Discover other articles in the same domain of application