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return to Sound Waves article: Scientists and the Media: Impacts of Sea-level Rise

 Kimberly Taylor

Freshwater Impacts

Clip 1: Communicating about trends and implications—"I need a lead"

Moderator Rob Lorei points out the reporter's desire for hard facts to impress readers, and USGS California Water Science Center program officer Kimberly Taylor urges reporters to focus on trends instead of specific numbers, which scientists generally cannot provide for future events.

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Rob Lorei: Kimberly, I gotta say, as a journalist, let me chime in with Cynthia. I need things in black and white before I go with a story. I want some hard facts that I can relate to. I need, I need a lead—I need something to grab the public's attention, to say this is why I'm covering this issue.

Kimberly Taylor: And I think that from my perspective, asking the question about "Give me the number" is like asking the question, "What stock is gonna perform best in the next 5 years," out of the range of all of these potential stocks, and things like that. So, if you ask the question in a slightly different way, and you ask, "OK, what are the directions of change?" and "Do all of them pretty much point there?" And even if—what is the range? the scenario says 2 millimeters to a meter—whatever the numbers are, "Is that still going to have a major implication?" So you can write the story and say, "Look, there's going to be change; it's probably going to have a major implication," regardless of how big it is.


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cover story:
Corals, Habitats, and Paleoclimate in the Drake Passage

Scientists and the Media: Impacts of Sea-level Rise

USGS NWRC Celebrates National Women's History Month

USGS Promoted at National Science Teachers Association Conference

Meetings Field Trip for Association of American Geographers Meeting

USGS Modeling Conference

Publications New Poster Depicts Complex Bathymetry in Northern Monterey Bay

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