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Scientists and medics working on COVID: Introduction to the News Media

Thursday, 1 October 2020, 2.00pm to 5.00pm

Event held by the Science Media Centre

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of scientists engaging with the media. Public understanding of the nature of the virus and the behaviours needed to minimise risk is essential for saving lives. It’s paramount that these topics are communicated correctly and that evidence has its say. We have some excellent science and health journalists in the UK, but the pandemic will never be covered as accurately as we want it to be without the direct involvement of the experts themselves.

Introduction to the News Media is a seminar devised over ten years ago by the Science Media Centre aimed at persuading the best scientists of the case for engaging with the media. We do this through a number of things:

  • A talk from a press officer from the SMC, demonstrating clear examples of the way great researchers engaging with the media improves the quality of science being reported
  • A talk from an institutional science press officer who explains what support is available to scientists wanting to interact with journalists
  • A rare opportunity to listen to and question a panel of several national news science journalists about the way they report science, what they need from you and how best to engage with them to get the most accurate coverage
  • A panel of several scientists who have put their toe in the choppy media waters and lived to tell the tale giving you the good, the bad and the ugly of their experiences

Our next Introduction to the News Media event on Thursday 1st October is a special event focused exclusively on COVID-19 and will be held online from 14:00 – 17:00.

It’s a hugely informative, entertaining and popular afternoon. And it’s FREE.

Is it for you?

These free events are designed specifically for scientists with little or no media experience. They are fascinating in themselves, but the greatest benefit will be for scientists who work on issues likely to be in the news but who are either media shy, feel negatively about engaging with journalists or are downright scared that they will get it wrong. We welcome scientists, engineers and medics in academia or industry from any institution (postdoctoral level or professional equivalent and above; senior scientists are particularly welcome).

This special COVID-focussed event will be most useful for scientists researching various aspects of the virus who want to talk to the media about their work, or who want to be part of the scientific community’s collective effort to better inform the public and policy makers about all aspects of the virus.

If you have colleagues working on COVID-19 who might be interested in this event, please feel free to forward this email to them!

The event will be very similar to previous SMC Introduction to the Media days – so please don’t register if you have attended before.

What is involved?

At the Science Media Centre, we have spent a huge amount of time putting scientists and journalists in touch during the pandemic, and experts like you continue to be in great demand. This event is a beginner’s guide to the media for those experts, giving an insight into the way the news media works.

The event will consist of two sessions with a short break between, all held on Zoom.


What it isn’t

Skills-based media training. This session won’t prepare you for a confrontation with the hosts of BBC Radio 4’s Today, but it will give you a flavour of the media to help you understand its demands and make it easier for you to work with journalists. It will also give you good reasons to forge closer ties with your press office.


Register your interest

To register your interest for the event, please fill in the form here.

Places are limited and we’re looking for scientists and engineers at least some way into their research careers, so we don’t generally allocate places to students.

As this event is usually heavily subscribed and we do have a Zoom participant limit for events, please don’t request a place unless you are relatively sure you will be able to join the session on the date.

As this is a COVID focussed event, scientists not working on COVID-19 in some capacity will be offered signup opportunities for future more general events.

For any further queries or if you have any issues signing up, please email


Some comments from people who have previously attended this event:

“I found it one of the most rewarding uses of an afternoon that I can remember.”

“I found the event very interesting and useful. I feel more comfortable with the idea of talking to journalists now.”

“I thought the event was extremely well organised and had a good balance of views from scientists and the media. Very engaging speakers and really practical advice and information.”

“It gave me a good insight into why the media view is so different – and makes me listen to the views expressed now in a different light.”

“Have already had some contacts with the media, but was very nice to hear things from their point of view. Must be said, have not appreciated fully the time pressures they work under.”

“It was very accessible to people from all backgrounds. The panel sessions were great, giving the audience a chance to ask anything they wanted to get the most from the event.”

“The whole thing was excellent – I had to confess I hadn’t even heard of the SMC and was a bit of a mediaphobe after a few bad experiences but found the whole afternoon stimulating and inspiring!”


We really hope you will sign up and take part in what promises to be a fascinating and important event.