Explaining Research cover
Order your copy

Dwindling media coverage of science and technology also places more responsibility on you for reaching the public directly. Coverage of science and technology occupy only a few percent of overall news coverage, according to the "State of the News Media 2008" report of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The report found that newspapers and network TV news devote only two percent of their coverage to science and technology and about seven percent to health and medicine. These percentages are far lower than for government, foreign affairs, elections and politics, crime, and economics and business.

Newspapers and magazines have drastically downsized their science and technology writing staffs in recent years. And the number of newspapers is steadily shrinking as they go out of business. So, despite the critical societal importance of science and technology, their media coverage will remain marginalized. Fortunately, the new responsibilities for explaining research also mean new opportunities, notes NSF communications officer Leslie Fink:

"We still have responsibilities to the major national newspapers and the major news networks . . . but they're not the only players in disseminating information the way they used to be." Thus, she says, NSF has enhanced information on its Web site and launched its own news service, Science360, and other communications aimed at explaining research that it funds—just as have other funding agencies, universities, and federal laboratories.

Like these institutions, you should recognize that do-it-yourself communications can directly reach audiences that can profoundly affect your research and career success:

Explaining Research will teach you how to become an adept do-it-yourself research communicator.

(Next: Explaining Your Work Protects You Professionally)