British Science Association Media Fellowships
06 Mar 2019
SfAM is proud to support The British Science Association Media Fellowships and applications for this unique opportunity are currently open.
The British Science Association Media Fellowships offer a chance for practising scientists, clinicians and engineers to spend two to six weeks working for a media outlet such as the Guardian, BBC Breakfast or the Londonist.
Every year, up to fifteen Media Fellows are mentored by professional journalists and learn how the media operates and reports on science. As part of the scheme, they will receive guidance on how to communicate with the media and grab the attention of the wider public with science.
In 2018, we were delighted to fund Layal Liverpool’s British Science Association Media Fellowship, where she was placed with The Guardian. She told SfAM about her experience:
"As part of my fellowship, I undertook a one-month placement on the science desk at The Guardian newspaper in London. My mentors were the science editor, Ian Sample, and the science correspondent, Hannah Devlin – two people I admire greatly for their unique flair for translating complex science into engaging news items.
"Entering the newsroom for the first time was a surreal experience and a sharp change from my usual laboratory work. At the science desk, I dived straight in. On my second day I had already authored a page 3 story about the impact of diet on sperm quality.
"This turnover speed was remarkable to me and very much in contrast with scientific research, where progress is usually much more gradual. With support from Ian, Hannah and the rest of the science team, I authored 10 articles in total during my placement, including one that I wrote as a correspondent at the 2018 British Science festival."
After their media placement Fellows attend the British Science Festival in September, which provides an opportunity to gain valuable experience working alongside a range of media organisations from all over the UK in their dedicated Press Centre.
The Festival also offers opportunities to learn from a wide range of public engagement activities and network with academics, journalists and science communicators.
The Media Fellowships hope to give scientists, engineers and their colleagues, the confidence and willingness to engage with the media and tackle issues of mistrust and misrepresentation and to give journalists access to new scientific expertise.
The scheme has been running since 1987 and reflects the both the values of SfAM and the British Science Association's commitment to increasing the accessibility of the sciences and providing opportunities for discussion and debate. The Media Fellowship scheme is the only one of its kind in the UK.
Layal reflected on her time as a Media Fellow:
"I learnt a huge amount and was able to develop and improve my science communication and writing skills significantly. As a PhD student, I am training to become an expert in a very specific subject area. Writing for The Guardian, I learnt to broaden my perspective and apply my skills in analysing and interpreting scientific data to subject matters outside my area of expertise.
"Interviewing experts in the relevant fields was of significant help with this and was a process I thoroughly enjoyed. As a scientist myself, the fellowship was also an opportunity to learn what makes a good science story in the eyes of a journalist – something I shared with my scientist colleagues on my return to the lab."