Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public

Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public

by Cornelia Dean


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What we don’t know can hurt us—and does so every day. Climate change, health care policy, weapons of mass destruction, an aging infrastructure, stem cell research, endangered species, space exploration—all affect our lives as citizens and human beings in practical and profound ways. But unless we understand the science behind these issues, we cannot make reasonable decisions—and worse, we are susceptible to propaganda cloaked in scientific rhetoric.

To convey the facts, this book suggests, scientists must take a more active role in making their work accessible to the media, and thus to the public. In Am I Making Myself Clear? Cornelia Dean, a distinguished science editor and reporter, urges scientists to overcome their institutional reticence and let their voices be heard beyond the forum of scholarly publication. By offering useful hints for improving their interactions with policymakers, the public, and her fellow journalists, Dean aims to change the attitude of scientists who scorn the mass media as an arena where important work is too often misrepresented or hyped. Even more important, she seeks to convince them of the value and urgency of communicating to the public.

Am I Making Myself Clear? shows scientists how to speak to the public, handle the media, and describe their work to a lay audience on paper, online, and over the airwaves. It is a book that will improve the tone and content of debate over critical issues and will serve the interests of science and society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674066052
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/22/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 970,243
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 4.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Cornelia Dean is a science writer for the New York Times and Writer-in-Residence at Brown University.

Table of Contents

  1. An Invitation to Researchers
  2. Know Your Audience
  3. The Landscape of Journalism
  4. Covering Science
  5. The Problem of Objectivity
  6. The Scientist as Source
  7. Public Relations
  8. Telling Stories on Radio and TV
  9. Telling Science Stories Online
  10. Writing about Science and Technology
  11. The Editorial and Op-Ed Pages
  12. Writing Books
  13. On the Witness Stand
  14. Making Policy
  15. Other Venues
  16. Conclusion

  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Suggested Reading
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
bfertig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is really about communicating science for print media like newspapers and a How To for being interviewed as a scientist. There are a lot of common sense basic tips on how to be best prepared. The author provides perspective from the journalists point of view for the scientist so that interactions can go as smoothly and positively as possible. Nothing really earth shattering here, but potentially useful advice. Unfortunately, with science journalism on the decline despite increasing demand and rapidity of reporting RESULTS, this game will likely change as independent bloggers, aggregators, and self-made media dominate rather than the traditional in-depth science column or science show in traditional print and radio media.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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