P10: The Solitudes: Government science, the Media, and Those who help them Interact: Can we ever get along under today's rules of engagement?

Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Canadian Science Writers' Association

A three person panel discussion will try to advance our understanding of how the present government's policy of demanding that requests for interviews by journalists be vetted before they occur or that public information officers sit in on interviews has changed how everyone involved does their job. The purpose of the panel is not to recycle the complaints that have been much circulated in Canadian media and indeed around the world, but rather let attendees see the world of what has been called science muzzling from a number of inside perspectives. A public information officers describes: Here's how I used to talk to journalists. Here's how I talk now. A scientist media trainer explains: Here's how I used to train scientists to talk to journalists. Here's what I tell them to say now. A journalist says: Here's how I used to try to reach government scientists and interview them. Here's what I do now. Some journalists have found the process so time consuming, they have stopped even trying to talk to government scientists.


Executive Producer
Quirks & Quarks

Jim Handman has been the Executive Producer of the CBC Radio science program, Quirks & Quarks, for the past dozen years. During that time, he has won numerous prizes and honours for science journalism, including the Walter Sullivan Award from the AGU; the Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics; as well as many awards from the Canadian Science Writers Association. Jim has also taught broadcast journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, conducted workshops for the Graduate Science Communications program at Laurentian University in Sudbury, and taught radio at the National University of Rwanda. He was also a Science-Writer-in-Residence at the journalism school of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before joining Quirks & Quarks, Jim was a senior journalist and producer with CBC Radio News, serving as Foreign Editor of National News and Senior Producer of World Report and The World This Weekend.

Tim began his career as a communications professional in the Office of former Premier of New Brunswick, Bernard Lord. There, he specialized in event management, communications and liaising with government agencies, with such organizations as the New Brunswick Advisory on Youth. He then moved to the federal government and worked as Press Secretary for the Minister of Immigration, acting as spokesperson. Tim managed press conferences, led community engagement strategies and liaised regularly with international governments and media. Most recently, Tim served as the Director of Communications to the Minister of the Health, Leona Aglukkaq, where he specialized in crisis and strategic communications. He was the chief media spokesperson for the portfolio, where he gave hundreds of media interviews and also coached other senior departmental spokespeople. Tim successfully managed numerous Public Opinion Research projects and marketing campaigns during his three year tenor at Health Canada. He is best known for his work as the government’s communications lead during the H1N1 pandemic He is now principal at BeGru Communications.

A founding partner of Rutherford McKay Associates (RMA) and Nanos Rutherford McKay & Co., John McKay is a strategist, issue manager and communications specialist. For the past 25 years Mr. McKay has worked across Canada and in the United States, working with governments, NGOs and private sector clients on subjects as diverse as resource development, energy, agriculture, health care and pharmaceuticals, social housing, and domestic and international military activities. He has extensive experience delivering media relations training and coaching sessions to government and non-government scientists, engineers and technical experts. Clients include Health Canada, the Public Health Agency, Natural Resources Canada, National Defence and the Canadian Forces, Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. He has worked with senior Canadian and American military personnel at NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs and with Canadian Embassy personnel in Washington D.C. His free book on science communication is available at www.rmassociates.ca/makingthelinc

Stephen Strauss was a long time science writer for over 20 years with the Globe and Mail and more recently has written a column for the CBC’s website. He has won 6 Canadian Science Writer’s Science In Society Awards, was the first winner of the Connaught Medal for Medical Reporting and in 2007 won the UBC Graduate School of Journalism’s Prize for Internet Science Journalism and then the Barry Lando Prize for Best Science Journalism Overall in print, broadcasting and on the Internet. He has authored several book chapters and three books – one of which was a children’s book on measurement written all in rhyme. In 2007-2008 he was writer-in-residence at McMaster University’s Arts and Science Program. He has won two CIHR journalism grant awards and he has been president of the CSWA since 2011.