Author: C. R. Morales
On October 1st, SPEaC was pleased to host media expert Lauren Silverman at UT Southwestern. The purpose of the event was to provide an opportunity for graduate students and trainees at UT Southwestern to learn how to improve their science communication skills. In addition, SPEaC’s goal was to provide exposure to careers in science communication as a professional development exercise. Thanks to the sponsorship from the Career Services office, a private lunch for 32 students and postdocs was provided in the Faculty Club.
Ms. Silverman is the health, science, and technology reporter for KERA, which is a local public media outlet; the lead blogger for KERA’s Breakthroughs, a project devoted to health innovations, science, and technology from the North Texas Area; and a reporter and producer of freelance pieces for NPR news. Ms. Silverman started her radio career in high school at the Youth Radio in Oakland California, where she received the Gracie Allen award from American Women in Radio and Television. Since then, she has received multiple awards for her work as a reporter and producer of Generation Y Michigan at Michigan Radio and as a production assistant for the NPR show Weekend All Things Considered. Ms. Silverman received the 2014 Texas Health Journalist of the Year Honorable Mention from the Texas Medical Association and 2014 Lone Star Awards from the Houston Press Club. Ms. Silverman is currently working on the series ‘Obamacare 101’ to assess the impact of the Affordable Care Act in North Texas.
You may recall that on October 1st, several reports were published regarding the recent diagnosis of Ebola in a patient inside Dallas city. We are grateful that on such a busy day, Ms. Silverman was able to attend and present at our event.
From her entrance, Ms. Silverman was charming and welcomed comments and questions. Her talk pointed out the need to stay away from jargon and complicated details when speaking about our beloved science and medical expertise to others. This is not only a good practice for capturing and maintaining the audience’s attention but also for effectively translating the message. She recommended providing tangible analogies and making the message relatable. Ms. Silverman also encouraged students to follow and participate in science blogs, which is an opportunity that SPEaC strives to provide its members. Through blogging, we can learn and practice the art of communicating science and technology to the general public.
Just as any good researcher would, Ms. Silverman corroborates her information with multiple sources and confirms its relevance to the public before publishing. She also emphasized that science, technology, and health stories are never boring and always growing, which is why she enjoys reporting in this area. She also discussed how to report news on scientific topics such as evolution or global warming that are often debated in the public domain. In addition, we discussed the usage of inaccurate headlines and wording that convey the wrong message to the public leading to a misinformed public on matters of science and medicine.
At the end of the event, Ms. Silverman kindly extended her contact information to anyone interested in asking questions or sharing tips for stories. We thank all the attendees for making Ms. Silverman feel welcomed and for her avid participation.
To find out more about Lauren Silverman, you can follow her on Twitter.
Editor: Devon C.