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Priming scientists for successful media interviews

WASHINGTON, DCEvolution, climate change, stem cell researchScientists are frequently called upon to provide expert information on hot button issues that pervade the daily news headlines, yet most find themselves woefully unprepared for the bright lights of the television studio or leading questions from a newspaper journalist. A new publication from the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), "Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media," by Holly Menninger and Robert Gropp, will prepare scientists for successful and effective media interviews.

Recognizing that many scientists are reluctant to engage in media outreach, the Primer outlines compelling reasons for scientists to interact with the media and describes key differences between journalism and science that may not be apparent to practicing scientists. Step-by-step, Menninger and Gropp walk scientists through the entire interview processfrom appropriate questions to ask when a reporter calls to practical advice for looking and sounding ones best on-air or on-camera.

The information and advice in the Primer is presented in eight easy-to-read chapters that provide vital information for scientists new to media outreach, as well as a quick refresher for seasoned expertsan ideal text for a graduate course on science communication or a professional development course for students and faculty. The Primers authors speak from their own experiences as PhD scientists in the biological sciences with years of experience in media outreach.

The concise, user-friendly volume has several unique features that set it apart from other media guides for scientists. The Primer includes first-person interviews with nearly a dozen scientists who have successfully navigated print, radio, and television interviews. The scientistsincluding the Island Snake Lady, Kristin Stanford, recently featured on the Discovery Channel show, "Dirty Jobs"share advice and experiences on a number of topics, including safely speaking on behalf of an organization, avoiding trouble when discussing socially or politically controversial topics, and reflections on first interviews.

The Primer also provides worksheets to assist readers with interview preparation: building a message framework with talking points and transition phrases, developing analogies, and using illustrative props or images. It includes pages for readers to organize contact information of journalists with whom they have worked directly and those who have reported on stories related to their own research to keep as potential contacts for future story pitches.

"Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media" is available now at

The table of contents and cover image are also available at


Contact: Holly Menninger
202-628-1500 x229
American Institute of Biological Sciences

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