Responding to Science News Coverage: From Corrections to Celebration

This is part of a series on helping scientists effectively work with journalists. The first installment covers what scientists and science communicators should consider before an interview. To read the rest of the series, along with a handy checklist for conducting media interviews, buy the ebook on Amazon or a get a complementary copy when you support this work on Patreon.

This installment covers what to do after an interview. Science coverage is no longer a series of news clips. It’s an ongoing conversations in which journalists, scientists, audiences and editors are participating. In this chapter, I share best practices for asking for corrections, amplifying good coverage and understanding the distinctions journalists make between factual accuracy and the angles and context they use to shape a story.


Also published on Medium.

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  1. 49 minutes to respond – really?

    Recently a reporter emailed us about a story, with “urgent” in the subject line, but no other indication of a deadline. Our response required clearance through external lawyers, so it took us a few hours to get our act together.

    The reporter published the piece 49 minutes after sending the email, specifically noting that we had not responded.

    I was astonished. Should I be?

    How should we respond (or not)?

    • Hey, Rocky – Wow. Yeah, that’s a pretty short-time frame as I think the journalist him or herself would acknowledge, too. If I had to guess, interactions like that sometimes stem from editors asking reporters to give a source a try before deadline. In any case, I like reporters to text or call in addition to an email just in case I’m away from my desk or in a meeting if they truly need something urgently. I suppose all you can do at this point is ask them to give you more time or a better heads up in the future. I think journalists can also make it clear when they’re writing on tight deadline by saying a source did not “immediately respond for comment” as opposed to writing that they “did not respond.” If they’re doing a story that’s going to include updates, they should be willing to include whatever response you’re able to contribute. I see some bloggers who write on very tight deadline note that they’re going to include updates in their story, which is another way to approach things and shares some aspects of how wire service writers sometimes work. Thanks for sharing. That’s certainly a deadline speed record for the books! One other thought: maybe there’s an outside chance there’s a time zone difference involved??? That really is very little time!

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