Category Archives: Communications

Lessons for researchers from the Trump surprise

Dave Poulson
Dave Poulson

By David Poulson

The post-election analysis of the U.S. presidential race contains excellent lessons for communicating food systems research and other kinds of science.

Here’s why:

The question many people are now puzzling over is how could all those highly-educated, highly-paid statisticians and pollsters get the election so wrong. Seemingly no one projected a Trump victory.

And now the science of polling is taking a beating. It may never recover.

Perhaps it never should.

Continue reading Lessons for researchers from the Trump surprise

Cultivating uncertainty through science reporting

art
Image: Mike Gifford, Flickr.

By Marie Orttenburger

SACRAMENTO – Science is integral to environmental reporting, but it’s also a source of the field’s biggest dilemmas.

Science reporters often find themselves crafting imperfect metaphors, navigating complex findings, trying not to overwhelm the reader with data. And they’re doing all of that while struggling to understand the science themselves.

The “EJ Reporting: Don’t Forget the Science” panel at the Society of Environmental Journalist’s recent 26th annual conference tackled this challenge. The discussion, featuring science reporters Sarah Zielinski, Dan Fagin, Janet Raloff and Christopher Joyce, opened with some reassurance. Continue reading Cultivating uncertainty through science reporting

Dissecting a research story

By David Poulson

In this lesson we demonstrate several techniques for telling a research story.

First we’ll tell you a story about some interesting research. Then we’ll go back and highlight the techniques used in telling it. They’re all simple ideas that you can adapt yourself as you seek to connect your research with the public

More video lessons in this series:

Think your field is technical? Try this translational challenge

By David Poulson

Do you work in a highly technical field that no one can understand without intensive training?

Think again.

We often assume that no one can understand what we do without grasping the specialized language of our research community. But we can’t insist that others learn our language – our jargon – so that we can engage them with stories of what we do.

The responsibility for translation is ours.

This short video gives some tips for dejargonizing explanation.  And it will surprise you with an example of the kind of highly technical stories we already tell each other.

You can do this.  You already do.

Other videos in this series:

 

Outlawing jargon and reporting research as haiku

Dave Poulson
Dave Poulson

By David Poulson

When it comes to writing with clarity, perhaps we all could learn from the government of Tajikistan.

Radio Free Europe reports that the former Soviet republic is fining reporters for using complicated words that ordinary people cannot understand.

They could get nailed with a fine of up to $100 for each offense. Their employers could be liable for up to twice as much.

It doesn’t say much for free speech, but you’ve got to admire that commitment to jargon-busting.

Continue reading Outlawing jargon and reporting research as haiku