Paper No. 332-3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM
SCIENCE AS STORY: COMMUNICATING GEOSCIENCE IN UNEXPECTED (AND EFFECTIVE) WAYS
Scientists and science journalists are perfectly positioned to help each other. Journalists, through concise and accurate reporting, can bring a wide variety of topics to the attention of policymakers, other scientists, and the general public. Scientists’ research, of course, provides the material that science journalists present. Yet the impact of these painstaking efforts on both sides is diminished if no one is listening — or watching, reading, or Tweeting. Expanding the audience who follows geoscience developments benefits geologists, journalists, and, most of all, the public. I will explore the dynamics of science communication from a geoscience journalist’s perspective, focusing on methods to mutually engage our audiences and expand our reach. A fundamental technique is storytelling: constructing a narrative that grabs and holds the audience’s attention while simultaneously describing first-order scientific concepts in a way that the audience can relate to and that sticks with them. Key points include showing (not telling) the details, using gripping visual aids, and effectively communicating the uncertainty inherent to scientific research. From describing the geology of the mythical Middle Earth to discussing earthquake hazards to relating the geologic evolution of the Grand Canyon, I will draw upon examples from my own and other science journalists’ efforts to make the geosciences more palpable—and more popular.