Report from one of the sessions at the RSS 2017 Conference. More reports of conference sessions are listed here.
Robert Cuffe, the new head of statistics at BBC News, was at the Royal Statistical Society Conference with some advice for statisticians on engaging with the media.
In particular, he highlighted his involvement in the RSS Statistical Ambassadors programme as having been crucial in providing experience of working with journalists and press officers – the sort of experiences he was able to talk about when interviewing for the BBC position.
Cuffe also recommended that statisticians seek out and befriend press officers, especially those in academic institutions who may be tasked with promoting scientific work to the national media. These press officers will often find themselves dealing with the ‘big beasts’ of their institutions who are pushing for stories to get media coverage, though the press officers themselves may not have the statistical knowledge to be able to communicate some of the most important elements and limitations of the work presented to them.
Statisticians who offer a helping hand in these scenarios may therefore find themselves being called on to work on future stories. Indeed, said Cuffe, press officers are valuable in helping academics to connect with and build relationships with trusted journalists. He highlighted the Science Media Centre’s ‘Before the headlines’ initiative as another helpful route to achieve this.
- Robert Cuffe was speaking during the ‘Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing’ session, organised by the Young Statisticians Section and Significance. Look out for more from the prize winners in the October edition of Significance, and online at significancemagazine.com.