Science communicator in residence hosts workshop and panel of star journalists

Matt McGrath

BBC journalist and former York science communicator in residence Matt McGrath hosted a sold-out, high-energy science communication workshop with his colleague Alok Jha, author and former science correspondent at the Guardian (U.K.), on Friday, April 6 at the Faculty of Science. More than 60 researchers, staff and writers from York University and beyond attended the two-hour workshop to learn about how to tell and sell better science stories.

The first part of the program included a presentation by Jha about good and bad science communication, as well as a number of hands-on activities led by McGrath and Jha, including a real-life scenario of having just five minutes to write a 30-second radio blurb about a newly announced Nobel Prize winner.

“With so much going on in the world, there’s a lot of competition for everyone’s attention, so I really enjoyed the exercises that focused on the importance of boiling down all the nitty-gritty details related to a scientific investigation into only the most interesting and relevant information,” said Zehra Cemile Marsan, a York science Fellow working with Faculty of Science Professor Adam Muzzin. “I also enjoyed that the workshop made it obvious how the impact of a scientific study is sensitive to the narrative that its communicator chooses to employ, and that it is the duty of the scientist to effectively explain the details of his or her research.”

Alok Jha presenting at the science communication workshop

Alok Jha gives a presentation at the science communication workshop

The second half of the program featured short presentations by a stellar panel of journalists that included freelancer Jenny Carpenter, Metro News reporter Genna Buck and the Globe and Mail science reporter Ivan Semeniuk. Carpenter spoke about journalism at scientific conferences; Buck spoke about what goes into the creation of the science page at Metro News; and Semeniuk shared his experience and development as a science journalist.

McGrath completed his residency in mid-April and is now back at the BBC. More details about the York Science Communicator in Residence program can be found at science.yorku.ca/scicomm.

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