This course will provide early and mid-career scientists with a toolkit for engaging non-experts in public health discourse through coverage of their work in mainstream media outlets. As a pragmatic science focused on the health of populations, public health is of inherent relevance to consumers of mass media, and its accurate and engaging portrayal is crucial to informing public conversation about health policy. The course will provide a bridge between the distinct orientations of scientists (who want to know, “what's next?”) and the public (which wants to know, “what does this science mean?”) by exploring the real-world impact of media coverage of public health on science and society; by examining how journalists and editors determine whether they will cover scientific findings and public health initiatives; and by highlighting typical communication glitches between scientists and non-experts and emphasizing techniques to avoid them in both verbal and written formats. The course will provide a survey of the mainstream media landscape, as well as convey the limitations of health and science coverage in these venues, emphasizing in lectures, discussions and workshops how participants can tap their strength as writers and speakers to bring their work to an interested public.
Understanding journalistic mechanics and priorities is an asset to any scientist who wishes to join the public discourse as a writer, speaker or sought-after expert.
All registrants should bring a laptop computer or other materials, such as pen and paper, to write with.