Viewpoints from EGU GA 2011: Communicating Natural Hazard Risks

This year on the EGU General Assembly blog there will be guest posts from participants about their research and their impressions of sessions. These are personal points of view not EGU corporate views. If you would like to contribute a research viewpoint, please email us.

This viewpoint is from Catherine O’Riordan, Vice President of Physics Resources Center, American Institute of Physics, reflects on the use of news media programs (TV and Internet) to communicate Natural Hazard risk to the public. This work is presented as “Communicating Natural Hazard Risks to the Public through TV and Internet News Programs” in session NH9.3/EOS10 Natural Hazards Education, Communications and Science-Policy-Practice Interface on Monday TB4 (oral summaries of posters and discussion) and TB5 (poster authors in attendance).

Communicating Natural Hazard Risks to the Public through TV and Internet News Programs

By Catherine O’Riordan, Vice President of Physics Resources Center, American Institute of Physics,

The scientific community has a real opportunity to reach the general public with messages about natural hazard risks by using media outlets. According to the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Science (NSF) and Engineering Indicators for 2010, the general public in the USA relies on local television news more than any other medium for their science and technology news and information — with the internet coming in as a fast-rising second. In response to the need to communicate accurate information about natural hazards and other scientific topics as well as the opportunity to reach a broad sector of the general public, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) has created two news products. The first one targets television audiences and is called Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science (DBIS) . DBIS is a syndicated science news service that provides accurate and reliable scientific information in the form of twelve 90-second news segments distributed to local television stations throughout the USA and internationally each month. The newly launched second product targets internet audiences and is called Inside Science News Service (ISNS) . ISNS provides fully reported articles, graphics, and videos to provide major web news outlets and newspapers with accurate scientific reporting about natural hazards and other topics. NSF-sponsored research on DBIS revealed that there is a statistically significant difference in television viewers support for science in cities where DBIS segments are broadcasted compared to cities where they are not. 78% of focus group members reported that they liked watching news programs that featured science segments compared to a broadcast without them. AIP plans to continue to study ways to communicate natural hazards and other topics to the general public.

Bárbara Ferreira was the Media and Communications Manager of the European Geosciences Union from 2011 to 2019. Bárbara has also worked as a science writer specialising in astrophysics and space sciences, producing articles for the European Space Agency and others on a freelance basis. She has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge.

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