Dunn School researchers learn the art of news writing

Dunn School researchers learn the art of news writing

On Thursday 23rd August 2018, twenty Dunn School researchers sat down for a unique Masterclass in scientific news writing, held by experienced journalist and editor Roger Highfield. What they learnt: conclusions first, and details afterwards.

Roger Highfield, visiting Professor of Public Engagement at the Dunn School of Pathology, said the aim of the event was “about more than just communicating to a broader audience. To express yourself clearly you must be able to think clearly, so these skills can give you a better understanding, even of your own research.” 

Themes explored in the 3-hour session included: capturing the attention of readers, catering to the knowledge and interests of different audiences, and balancing accuracy and accessibility of hard science. Daniel Fonseca, a postdoc who attended the masterclass, commented that it was “very insightful to see what goes into writing a news article, and how different it is from spreading science amongst your peers”.

This was a common point of interest, as participants realised that their academic writing habits must be flipped upside down. Opening with an explanation of the scientific background may not intrigue a non-specialist, nor may they have time to read it all; instead, begin with the take-home message. This challenge became apparent when participants were asked to take a newly published research article and tried writing a headline and intro for either The Times or The Sun—whose readership is very different from the captive audience research papers command. 

The Masterclass was organised by the Dunn School news desk editors, Derek Xu and Anna Caballe. Following the success of this first session they look forward to welcoming Roger back for future events.

(Written by: Zoë Geraghty)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 12