July 21, 2008
Scientists and journalists have not necessarily had a good relationship in the past. While scientists like the attention to their work, sometimes they have not been good at explaining their results, its real significance, and the process of scientific investigation, and there have been real fears about being misquoted. But the scientist-journalist relationship seems to be warming. In a report published July 11 in the journal Science, a majority of scientists interviewed said that they were generally happy with their media interactions. The report was by a team led by Hans Peter Peters of the Forschungszentrum Julich, Germany, interviewed more than 1,300 researchers in the fields of epidemiology and stem cell research. The survey found similar results with scientists from the U.S., U.K., Japan, France, and Germany. The study also suggests scientists are becoming more knowledgeable about how journalists work, and are more skilled at working with reporters than in the past.
One German stem cell researcher, Hans Scholer, obviously doesn't fall in the majority, though. A number of German news stories (sorry, no English-speaking media have picked up the story yet) report that Scholer wants a gag rule for journalists. He even refused to continue a scientific talk recently in Berlin because he detected journalists present. Maybe a little media training is in order?