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

Rob Lorei, Andy Reich, and Mark Walters

Public Health

Clip 3: Communicating by verifying and collaborating

USF St. Petersburg journalism professor Mark Walters supports running story text by scientific sources for review, noting that this practice has helped him write accurate articles on extremely complex subjects.

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Mark Walters: I am more than willing to collaborate with a scientific source, in that I will not only read back something, but I will make another trip down there and say, "Look, this has gotta be right—for your sake, for my sake, for the reader's sake." And I will—not only will I read back, but I will engage in active collaborations with scientists to get something right. Now, I know a lot of my reporter friends, they might get fired from their paper for doing that, but that's what I choose to do, and I have managed to keep things pretty accurate on very, very complex subjects, in part, I think, because of that willingness to break a taboo.

Rob Lorei: And if you were doing a story about something that Andy was involved in, would you tell him at the end of the story, "Hey, I'm gonna call you back tomorrow before I print the story, and I'm going to read the quotes back to you"? Or how would you convey that? And if the reporter doesn't convey that to the scientist, how do you gently ask the reporter to extend you that courtesy?

Mark Walters: Well, I think that, in my experience, a number of scientists don't mind saying, "Hey, would you like to run this by me?" Not for editorial comment but for factual content. Now the line can blur there, but I think that it's—I certainly think in this day and age, when we cannot expect as journalists to understand it all, I think that's an appropriate question.


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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

August 2008 Publications List U. S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
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