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Smc 15062 Annual Review V8


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Science Media Centre 2009 Annual Review

Science Media Centre 2009 Annual Review

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  • 1. Annual Review 2009
  • 2. The Science Media Centre (SMC) is an independent source of expert comment and information for journalists covering science and technology in New Zealand. Our aim is to promote accurate, bias-free reporting on science and technology by helping the media work more closely with the scientific community. TVNZ – One News New Zealand Herald Garth Bray, 19 august 2009 russell Brown, 2 June 2009 Jarrod Booker, 15 september 2009 Gardasil backed Swine flu, terror ‘Water footprint’ as pressing despite side-effects and Susan Boyle as carbon dioxide emissions
  • 3. Update from the SMC Manager If recession, job losses, business we worked on all of the stories mentioned one of the highlights of our first 18 closures and belt-tightening have above, but to do so, our tiny wellington- months of operation has been working defined the last year, it has also been based team had to first gain the trust of with the more established science Media one where science-related issues the country’s scientists. In that endeavour, Centres in Britain and australia, who have have kept an under-resourced media we have been successful, building a panel welcomed the new Zealand sMC with extremely busy. of scientific advisors and collaborating open arms. next year will see other sMCs there were the defining, long-running with experts from literally every research emerge in Canada and Japan and an stories – the swine flu pandemic and institution in the country on hundreds increasingly powerful global network the increasingly concerning updates of alerts, science backgrounders and that is committed to helping the media from scientists on climate change. enquiries from journalists. without the generate accurate, unbiased coverage support of these scientists, the sMC of science-related issues. along the way, we also faced toxic could not exist. the sMC has hit the ground running, beaches, a revival of the 1080 debate, polarising public health issues such as we held 25 online briefings for journalists but there is much work still to do to the fortification of bread with folic acid covering subjects as diverse as dietary encourage the type of coverage of and scientifically-based challenges to supplements and the water footprint of science society needs. we look forward new Zealand’s export-orientated primary agriculture. we operate truly transparently to embracing this challenge in the years sector and clean green image. – all of our briefings are posted on the to come. It was in this environment that the web as podcasts, all of our alerts are science Media Centre was born, by available for anyone to read. necessity establishing itself rapidly we established sciblogs, the largest to become a trusted, responsive science blog network in australasia, to source of scientific information give scientists the opportunity to engage serving 350 journalists. directly in science communication. Peter Griffin, sMC ManaGer p G 0 1
  • 4. newstalk ZB MIke hoskInG, 19 March 2009 ANDRILL – Drilling back in time In March, a team of scientists working on the antarctic Geological drilling programme published new findings in Nature suggesting that even a slight rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations affects the stability of the west antarctic Ice sheet where the andrIll core samples were taken. the sMC held a briefing involving andrIll scientists from Victoria university and Gns science, attracting reporters from as far away as washington d.C. It remains the sMC’s most successful briefing to date.
  • 5. Working with journalists New Zealand has very few science the diversity of the audience journalists, so the SMC mainly the sMC deals with means each One of the biggest challenges a journalist deals with general reporters query is unique. the needs of faces – particularly one just starting out – is keen to get their teeth into the journalists vary greatly, whether finding people to go to for reliable, honest science-related issue of the day. they are working in print or tV, radio and straightforward opinions. So thank God or online. But no matter what the for the SMC – any time I’ve needed to find our media database, therefore, nature of the query is, journalists informed people, I’ve been able to turn to the is incredibly diverse – with 350 come to the sMC for fast access SMC team and know that whoever they point journalists signed up to receive our to unbiased, factual information and me towards will not only know what they are sMC alerts and 150 registered to expert contacts who can be relied talking about but will be an asset to my story. receive our weekly research radar, which features embargoed research on to deliver useful and accurate Imogen Neale reporter papakura Courier due to be published in the top information. scientific journals. the sMC, in conjunction with a media query can be as simple as Meltwater news, tracks media a reporter seeking out the contact coverage of science-related issues The Science Media Centre is a great details of an expert or as complex as on a month-by-month basis, creating organisation; they provide up-to-the-minute helping a media organisation assemble the first set of analytics focused on news on developments in the world of science its annual list of the best scientists science coverage. these statistics and technology and offer in-depth analysis in the country. no query is too trivial (see pages 6 and 7) are published on that is easy to follow and comprehend. or too complicated for us to tackle. the science Media Centre website. Hamish Fletcher presenter the wire, bFM p G 0 3
  • 6. Working with scientists The work of the SMC would not In its short life, the sMC has be possible without the support developed what may well be the most In planning coverage of BioED, we were of the country’s scientists who comprehensive database of scientific helped greatly through the services of devote time and energy to contacts in the country, a resource the Science Media Centre, not only for contribute to our SMC alerts and the media is constantly drawing on. introductions to media outlets, but also for background briefings and who assistance in developing the media plan that early on, the sMC identified a desire agree to front up to the media – was used for the conference. please pass among scientists to brush up on usually at short notice. on my gratitude to the rest of your staff for their science communication skills. a job well done. the sMC has forged lasting as a result, the sMC has conducted relationships with scientists across seminars for established and emerging Professor Peter Lockhart allan wIlson Centre Massey university the CrIs, universities and private scientists and research managers research organisations and across around the country, to give them all fields of science. aiding this has fresh ideas and skills to employ when been our science advisory panel, dealing with the media. a group of 30 scientists who advise For the last two years, the sMC the sMC on their areas of expertise has overseen the judging of the and who are surveyed monthly for new Zealand association of their views on coverage of science scientists’ science Communicator in the media. award, which was won this year by professor Ian shaw of the university of Canterbury. scientists and journalists at an sMC briefing in wellington held in conjunction with unesCo and sustainability aotearoa new Zealand CredIT nakedize p G 0 4
  • 7. The next generation New Zealand needs to nurture In July, the sMC participated in not only the next generation a roadshow undertaken by the From the perspective of a journalism educator, of scientists, but the fledgling Foundation for research, science it is invaluable to have peter Griffin’s input as a journalists who will help improve and technology, the royal society science communicator and a former journalist. the public’s understanding of of new Zealand and Immigration He sparked our students’ interest in a workshop science through reporting on new Zealand, reaching hundreds of he gave at the Broadcasting School, and they science-related issues. young scientists and teaching them will continue to work with the SMC as they basic skills in science communication. hone their journalism skills. as such, the sMC devotes considerable resources to working In conjunction with the sMC, the Jos Darling JournalIsM tutor new Zealand Broadcasting school with emerging scientists and also Journalists training organisation with journalism schools. is contributing towards a workplace training module for journalists that the sMC receives a large number Undertaking work experience at the Science will cover the basics of science of media enquiries from student Media Centre gave me a behind-the-scenes reporting – everything from journalists representing the likes look at how science stories come together and explaining the peer-review process of Te Waha Nui, aut’s student allowed me to work on topical issues like 1080 through to communicating risky newspaper, and university of subjects in soundbites. the sMC poisoning. As someone interested in pursuing auckland radio station bFM. a career in science communication, my intern programme saw students from connection with the SMC has been invaluable, throughout the year, sMC staff have Massey university and the Malaghan both in terms of the journalism I have held workshops and given lectures Institute of Medical research undertaken and in giving me an idea of what on science communication issues at undertake work experience at the makes for effective science communication. institutions across the country. sMC during the year. Motoko Kakubayashi Graduate In physICs and JournalIsM Massey university p G 0 5
  • 8. SMC at a glance Media breakdown Progress so far – June 08 to June 09 Who uses the SMC? Some key statistics to show the extent of SMC activity in the last year. 920 QuerIes 1,250 storIes usInG 125 JournalIsts sMC Gathered wIth reGIstered reCeIVed Content or aCCess to the sMC FroM the MedIa expert ContaCts resourCe lIBrary SMC Media Tracker Metatopics 1 June 2008 – 30 September 2009 1400 newspapers 27% technology no. oF artICles Found VIa keywords Magazines 24% 1200 science research organisations* radio 21% 1000 swine flu television 17% Technology Climate change Science 800 Research organisations* agencies 05% Swine flu Climate change 600 Blogs/online 04% 400 200 0 * Mentions of all CoREs/ 30-06-2008 07-07-2008 21-07-2008 04-08-2008 18-08-2008 01-09-2008 15-09-2008 29-09-2008 13-10-2008 27-10-2008 10-11-2008 24-11-2008 08-12-2008 22-12-2008 05-01-2009 19-01-2009 02-02-2009 16-02-2009 02-03-2009 16-03-2009 30-03-2009 13-04-2009 27-04-2009 11-05-2009 25-05-2009 08-06-2009 22-06-2009 06-07-2009 20-07-2009 03-08-2009 17-08-2009 31-08-2009 14-09-2009 28-09-2009 CRIs and universities in conjunction with keyword research p G 9 5-2009 08-06-2009 22-06-20090 6 06-07-2009 20-07-2009 03-08-2009 17-08-2009 31-08-2009 14-09-2009 28-09-2009 12-10-2009 Source: Meltwater News
  • 9. 360 JournalIsts 460 sCIentIFIC papers 43,210 sMC alert and heads up downloaded wIth aCCess newsletter FroM the sMC to sMC alerts eMaIls sent resourCe lIBrary SMC Media Tracker Web traffic Topics 1 June 2008 – 30 September 2009 Since 1 June 2008 400 emissions trading scheme no. oF artICles Found VIa keywords 350 Immunisation obesity 26,900 300 pastoral greenhouse gas 250 Genetic modification unIQue weBsIte VIsIts 200 Methamphetamine 150 100 Biotechnology 48,300paGe VIews 50 0 30-06-2008 07-07-2008 21-07-2008 04-08-2008 18-08-2008 01-09-2008 15-09-2008 29-09-2008 13-10-2008 27-10-2008 10-11-2008 24-11-2008 08-12-2008 22-12-2008 05-01-2009 19-01-2009 02-02-2009 16-02-2009 02-03-2009 16-03-2009 30-03-2009 13-04-2009 27-04-2009 11-05-2009 25-05-2009 08-06-2009 22-06-2009 06-07-2009 20-07-2009 03-08-2009 17-08-2009 31-08-2009 14-09-2009 28-09-2009 p G Source: Meltwater News 0 7
  • 10. Otago Daily Times NZPA, 28 July 2009 Tree planting urged to mitigate emissions when the government announced its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target in July, the sMC teamed up with university of Canterbury researchers associate professor euan Mason and senior lecturer david evison to examine the role of forestry in cutting emissions. the two academics released the first significant study looking at the treatment of forestry under the revised emissions trading scheme, and their work was widely quoted in the media.
  • 11. SMC alerts and backgrounders The SMC alerts we issue are the sMC alerts and background fact bread and butter of the Science sheets have covered everything from As a producer of a news and current Media Centre. october’s tsunami in the samoan affairs radio show, I am always looking for since our first release on climate islands and the prospects for relevant and interesting stories. The Science change in July 2008, we have issued geoengineering schemes, through Media Centre is the go-to place to locate 350 alerts, quoting over 500 scientists to high-caffeine energy drinks and New Zealand’s best and relevant science from new Zealand and abroad. the the hpV immunisation programme. media people. They also provide an excellent alerts are press releases – but with email alert service highlighting topical science our alerts on swine flu, folic acid a difference. stories. The SMC has become my first port fortification of bread, forestry’s of call to locate the people I need. The team they include explanatory quotes treatment under the emissions trading appreciates the timeframe constraints under from scientists on new research or scheme and ocean acidification have which we work in the media and delivers breaking news stories and serve as generated hundreds of media stories. on every request. I’m positive their work useful reference sheets for journalists means more science stories appear in the working on deadline. > mainstream media. we do not attempt to spin the science, just present as wide a range of Mark Wilson produCer VIsIt the sMC weBsIte radio live views as possible from scientists to VIew all past alerts: on an issue. p G 0 9
  • 12. Key briefings Outside of the political and police and presentations are made available reporting beats, press conferences in the sMC resource library for The SMC ran a very effective webcast for in New Zealand are rare. download by registered journalists. two of our scientists who had a paper in the Journalists are spread around the some of the briefings are time- journal Nature on Antarctic science. It was an country and are under pressure to sensitive, focusing on new research interactive internet session with the scientists produce stories to tight deadlines. running through the presentation and about to be published or topical journalists asking questions. taking an hour out to attend a press science-related issues that are conference, therefore, is a major already drawing the media’s attention John Callan CoMMunICatIons ManaGer Gns science undertaking for a time-poor journalist. but require closer investigation. as such, when the sMC kicked off others are presented in the form of its scientific briefings in late 2008, backgrounders for reporters, allowing it decided to take advantage of the them to improve their knowledge most efficient tool for bringing people of issues and make contacts in the scientific community. The SMC updates are a great way to keep up together – the internet. the ongoing with current research, helpfully summarising sMC online Briefing series allows Between 5 and 20 journalists scientific journal articles that I might never journalists to dial in from their desks generally take part in sMC online have laid eyes on otherwise. Their ability to to listen to scientists talk on topics in Briefings, which are developing as quickly round up comments on breaking their areas of expertise as they present a major driver of sMC-originated stories is always handy for a busy journalist. slide presentations via the web. stories appearing in the media. over the next year, the sMC will increase Eloise Gibson enVIronMent reporter the briefings are recorded and posted new Zealand herald on the sMC website as podcasts, the frequency of its briefings, some while associated research papers of which are held jointly with the australian science Media Centre. p G 1 0
  • 13. Paracetamol and asthma Immunisation Methamphetamine dr richard Beasley’s important research into new Zealand’s relatively low rate of Is banning pseudoephedrine in cold medicine the link between paracetamol consumption immunisation among children was highlighted the answer to our methamphetamine among young children and their risk of in unICeF’s State of the World’s Children problem? the sMC examined this issue in an developing asthma as a result of such use report. the sMC explored some of the reasons online briefing bringing together some of the received close attention when the findings for lingering resistance to immunisation in country’s top experts in methamphetamine were featured in the lancet. the sMC helped a briefing involving immunisation experts use and manufacture and held the briefing to coordinate local coverage of the research, dr nikki turner and professor Michael Baker. coincide with the release of Chief science holding an online briefing with dr Beasley in advisor professor sir peter Gluckman’s report ANDRILL findings conjunction with the australian science to the prime Minister on the issue. the sMC’s most successful briefing to Media Centre. Coverage was featured around date drew together scientists from Victoria Food miles the world. university and Gns science to discuss the contentious issue of food miles was The bovine genome findings from the andrIll ice core drilling discussed in an sMC briefing featuring lincoln when Science announced on its cover the project underway in antarctica. the briefing university’s professor Caroline saunders and sequencing of the cow genome and the was attended by journalists as far away as John Ballingall of the new Zealand Institute benefits already being realised from this sydney and washington d.C. of economic research. the briefing examined long-running piece of research, the sMC new nZIer research quantifying the drop Methane emissions gathered together agresearch scientists who in Gdp new Zealand could experience if new Zealand’s approach to tackling methane had been involved in the project to take consumers in european markets decide emissions from agriculture was in the journalists through the details. subsequent to increasingly buy locally grown produce. spotlight in a briefing held in partnership with stories featured prominently in the agricultural the pastoral Greenhouse Gas research press and mainstream publications. Consortium. the briefing is one of several the sMC ran in the lead-up to the Copenhagen climate negotiations. p G 1 1
  • 14. new Zealand listener sarah Barnett, 27 June 2009 Swine flu – man v virus From the moment the rangitoto College students returned to new Zealand with suspected cases of the h1n1 virus, the sMC was on the case, rounding up comment from experts locally and drawing on scientists from the sMC networks in Britain and australia. swine flu constituted the biggest single story of the year in terms of media enquiries to the sMC.
  • 15. Sciblogs – Australasia’s largest science blogging network 12,000 In September, the Science Media the website, which also combines Centre launched, video and audio clips and social a platform for scientists to write media tools, was developed to give about their areas of expertise and scientists an opportunity to engage VIsItors per Month receive feedback from readers. in science communication. It is a tool for all scientists who want to hone sciblogs has quickly become the their skills in writing for a mainstream main online hub for discussion of science-related issues in new Zealand. audience and is already giving dozens It started with 25 scientists covering of scientists greater confidence in everything from clinical health to engaging in explaining the big issues climate change and has already related to their area of science. expanded to cover areas as diverse sciblogs is also feeding mainstream as forensics and future food science. media coverage of science, serving as a valuable resource for journalists. 30 BloGGers 800 artICles posted p G 1 3
  • 16. Science Media Centre Advisory Board Staff Contact the sMC is an independent Vincent Heeringa ChaIr Peter Griffin level 2 centre established by the royal publisher, hB Media Manager, science Media Centre 50 Manners st society of new Zealand with Margaret Austin CnZM dacia Herbulock wellington 6014 funding from the Ministry of royal society Councillor senior Media advisor, science Media po Box 11113 research, science and technology. Centre Professor Jean Fleming Manners st It is overseen by a five-member professor of science Communications, Aimee Whitcroft wellington 6142 advisory board made up of university of otago Media advisor, science Media Centre representatives from the media P 04 499 5476 Anthony Scott E and science and draws on the Chief executive, science new Zealand expertise of 30 scientists through T its science advisory panel. the Clive Lind editorial development Manager, sMC maintains one of the largest Fairfax Media and most comprehensive expert databases of scientific contacts in the country.