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EurekAlert! Supports Science Communications
In support of best practices in science communications, AAAS and its science news website, EurekAlert!, recently gave 200 public information officers in the Washington, DC, area a chance to hear words of wisdom from seasoned news and public information professionals.
The event was held November 12 at the National Press Club, and the reporters, in particular, got right to the point.
"Tell your story in 30 seconds or less," said Bill Harwood, space consultant, CBS News. Christy Feig, senior producer, CNN Medical News told the PIOs to do their research before making the call"Who is the audience, what is the impact, how many people will this effect, what is unique about this?" Nils Bruzelius, deputy national editor for science, The Washington Post, suggested that the audience consider the big picture, and learn to recognize a "hot" story. Glenn O'Neal, assignment editor, USA Today, said he wants to know whether a proposed story idea would have a direct impact on the way people live. Alicia Ault, a freelancer who has written for Reuters, Wired, and The New York Times told the PIOs to learn to identify trends in science and technology. And the one piece of advice they all had was: Provide visualsparticularly if it's something to which the reporter won't have access.
In his welcoming remarks, Alan I. Leshner, AAAS CEO and executive publisher of its journal, Science, noted that "news people play a key role in disseminating accurate science and technology information to the public." He also described EurekAlert! as having, "a core function between the science community and the public."
This belief was seconded by panelist Curt Suplee, director, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, National Science Foundation, who said that EurekAlert!, "provides authority and is a filter for credible news." Denise Graveline, communications director for the American Chemical Society, called the site, "a great resource for us."
The event was organized by EurekAlert!, with support from Spectrum Science Public Relations, Washington, D.C. in Washington, D.C. Rea Blakey, media consultant, and award-winning news reporter, formerly with CNN and WJLA-TV, Washington, D.C., filled the role of facilitator.
EurekAlert! is an editorially independent, Web-based service provided by AAAS to disseminate science and technology information through reporters and public information officers to the public. Access to the public information on the site is free, and available to anyone. EurekAlert! also has an embargoed section that provides news in advance of publication to 4,500 reporters, with 52 percent of them outside the United States. The number of international reporters continues to increase. Public access to the site totals more than 250,000 unique visitors each month.
"In 2004, several new features on EurekAlert! will help to meet the needs of the site's growing public and international audiences," said Cathy O'Malley, senior program officer at AAAS. "For example, a marine science portal, a multi-language portal and a module for diseases in the developing world are now under construction with funding from the Vetleson Foundation and the William T. Golden Fund for Program Innovation." O'Malley added, "the existing EurekAlert! experts' database, featuring some 900 experts, is also growing thanks to the Vetlesen Foundation."
Mary Jane Williamson
13 November 2003