This week I am starting my 2011 British Science Association Media Fellowship with BBC Wales. The Media Fellowships aim to create a greater awareness and understanding of the workings of the media amongst practising scientists, social scientists, clinicians and engineers. The Media Fellows spend 3 to 8 weeks working within the national press, broadcast or internet media to better understand how scientists can interact with the media (increasingly relevant for academics), as well as learning how to produce accurate and relevant pieces about developments in science. The scheme has been running since 1987 and reflects the British Science Association’s wider commitment to working with the media to build greater understanding between science and society. The Media Fellows will also attend the British Science Festival 2011, to be held in Bradford in September, reporting for their hosts.
My six week placement with BBC Wales will be predominantly with BBC Radio Wales in Cardiff, working on Good Morning Wales and Good Evening Wales. I will also be spending a week in Wrexham with Science Cafe, BBC Radio Wales’ weekly science and technology programme, as well as some time on TV with BBC Wales Today (the BBC’s national news programme for Wales) and online with BBC News Wales. BBC Wales do not currently have a dedicated science correspondent, so I hope to try and increase and broaden their science output by highlighting relevant research and policy developments in Wales.
I have already been working on Good Evening Wales for two days last week, taking a news story from inception to broadcast: with the publication of the Bateson report [PDF] on primate research last Wednesday, this raised wider discussions about the effectiveness and importance of animal research in the UK. This was in light of a recent YouGov poll, in which 69% of the British public support the Government taking action to replace and reduce experimentation on animals (albeit with a slightly leading question IMHO). I arranged an interview with the communications and public engagement manager from Understanding Animal Research (with thanks to the Science Media Centre!), which went out live at 5:40pm. It was interesting to see how a story develops from the morning production meeting to going out on air in the evening, as well as how news is prioritised (especially during a busy news week).
I will be blogging throughout my time with BBC Wales, so keep an eye on the Media Fellowship tag. You can also contact me on my swanky BBC email address: firstname.lastname@example.org (N.B. I did not request this! But I appear to be in rather illustrious company).
The ten 2011 Media Fellows are:
- Ms Leila Battison (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford), with BBC Radio and BBC News Online.
- Ms Amy Chesterton (Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge), with the Naked Scientists.
- Dr Tom Crick (Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, UWIC), with BBC Wales.
- Dr Nathan Green (Northwest Institute for BioHealth Informatics, University of Manchester), with the Guardian.
- Dr Elena Hoika (Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, University of Stirling), with the Scotsman in Edinburgh.
- Dr Hamish Pritchard (British Antarctic Survey), with BBC Radio and BBC News Online.
- Dr Amy Strange (Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford) with the Irish Times in Dublin.
- Dr Lee Sweetlove (Reader in Plant Biochemistry, University of Oxford), with Nature.
- Mr Richard Walters (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford), with the Times.
- Dr Andrew Wright (Reader in Building Engineering Physics, De Montfort University), with the Times Higher Education.