In the twelve years since the Three Mile Island accident sent a panicked public and press corps scrambling for information, the Media Resource Service has become the major source of sources for U.S. journalists seeking expert information or diverse opinions for science and technology stories. The telephone referral service now has a computerized data base of nearly 30,000 scientists who have volunteered to answer media questions in their areas of expertise. And two years ago, we added a Videotape Referral component providing television outlets with sources of science-related videotapes.
The success of the MRS has also provided the basis for a wide variety of programs bringing journalists and scientists together for an exchange of news and views.
As the MRS has grown, so has international interest in it. The tragedies at Bhopal and Chernobyl, with their ensuing public confusion and fear, made it clear that the media's need for quick access to reliable scientific information is not limited to any one country. Journalists and scientists from every continent have visited our cluttered offices -- and continue to do so -- asking questions and taking notes. Many have left with plans to set up similar programs in their countries.
This paper examines what's happened to some of those plans and why. It also discusses the initial results of SIPI's new, international environmental "hot-line," and the potential for an international, multi-lingual telephone-fax, media referral service.
A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.