All of the stereotypes of the scientist so clearly delineated by Rosalynn Haynes in her book are evident in today’s media, reinforcing the reluctance of scientists to "go public" but also reflecting their endemic lack of appreciation of how those outside their professional milieu think of them. Scientists now acknowledge their dilemma but, instead of confidently doing their own thing in public, they are calling primarily on intermediaries (far exceeding the small, and dwindling, numbers
of full-time-science specialists in the mainstream media) who think they are expected by their "clients" and employers to purvey a glittering image of research in the pursuit of prestige and dollars. A danger is that few of the well-publicised claims of "breakthroughs" materialise and the stereotypes are reinforced. Scientists are curiously reluctant to make direct contact with the media managers. As a result, they have become the targets of private, deep-seated scepticism by those who rationalise their inability (or laziness?) to cope with a science-dominated world and implicitly reject any obligation to science and its broader public understanding in the return for the media industry riding on the back of successful application of research. By restricting the range of reporting and the scope of commentary about science, media managers - and the government by strangling the ABC - are perpetrating ignorance as a virtue.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Scientists in film and fiction
The media

Peter Pockley   Australian Correspondent for Nature

All of the stereotypes of the scientist so clearly delineated by Rosalynn Haynes in her book are evident in today’s media, reinforcing the reluctance of scientists to "go public" but also reflecting their endemic lack of appreciation of how those outside their professional milieu think of them. Scientists now acknowledge their dilemma but, instead of confidently doing their own thing in public, they are calling primarily on intermediaries (far exceeding the small, and dwindling, numbers
of full-time-science specialists in the mainstream media) who think they are expected by their "clients" and employers to purvey a glittering image of research in the pursuit of prestige and dollars. A danger is that few of the well-publicised claims of "breakthroughs" materialise and the stereotypes are reinforced. Scientists are curiously reluctant to make direct contact with the media managers. As a result, they have become the targets of private, deep-seated scepticism by those who rationalise their inability (or laziness?) to cope with a science-dominated world and implicitly reject any obligation to science and its broader public understanding in the return for the media industry riding on the back of successful application of research. By restricting the range of reporting and the scope of commentary about science, media managers - and the government by strangling the ABC - are perpetrating ignorance as a virtue.

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