Friday, September 8, 2006

On Trudy E. Bell, Reporting Risk Assessment of Nanotechnology - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Trudy E. Bell, Reporting Risk Assessment of Nanotechnology: A reporter’s guide to sources and research issues, 2006 (Pre-publication issue) -- http://www.nano.gov/html/news/reporting_risk_assessment_of_nanotechnology.pdf

This review is brief peppered with cynicism and praise. Since the article is so brief (7 pp.), referencing each section seems unnecessary. This is an easy read while exercising on the elliptical trainer or treadclimber.

Bell’s brief guide is useful but I doubt many journalists will use it and those that will use it will probably not admit having used it. My experience with journalists and I worked in this field has been that they are incredibly busy and overworked and regularly asked to stretch their competencies in a dozen different directions every month. They need to be provided with bits of information relevant to their immediate inquiry. They should be applauded for their hard work and diligence and we should make every opportunity to answer their questions clearly and precisely. Instead of lecturing them, we need to converse with them. In the world of journalism, lateral communication is highly preferable to a vertical or hierarchical model.

On the other hand, this guide is incredibly useful in providing someone interested in nanoscience and nanotechnology with a general introduction into the issues pervading the field. I can see me using the guide in my advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in risk communication and the rhetoric of science and technology. In my efforts to put together the nanotechnology primer, I feel Bell’s article is a necessary addition to every reading list on nanotechnology policy and media coverage of nanoscience.

Finally, the section on “cautions for reporting” should be included in every journalism course covering science reporting.

1 comment:

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