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> Media at Toolik, Ways that word gets out about science
post Jun 23 2005, 03:23 PM
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23 June 2005

Yesterday Mike Stark from the Billings Gazette in Montana came out to the plots and talked to Peter Ray and I while we coninued our search for Betula. There have been many very nice people that I have met from the media but both Peter and I thought that Mike was nice to come out to the plots for a second time and he seemed to be someone who was genuinely interested in the science of what was going on in the tundra.

There have been several things I didn't expect about Toolik and one of them has been the amount of media that have been here in my short stay. I have been more exposed to it because Donie is one of the senior scientists here and has taken on a management role where she often will give tours to visiting journalists. But for most of my time here there has been at least one, right now there are 5, journalist of some kind or another in the camp.

While doing this project I have often struggled with explaining to people why it is important that I go to Alaska and learn more about climate change. And for that matter why everyone should know more about the arctic. I have come to understand the difference between knowing something is important and convincing others to follow what is happening. The fact is that it can be hard to get people to care and to be interested in what you are doing no matter what it is. It has become my life for 3 weeks but other people have other things going on and I understand that other people are consumed by things at the same time as I am consumed by this. All I am saying is that it is sometimes hard to turn the corner and get people to listen. At Toolik they have certainly turned that corner. People come to Toolik because it is respected for the science that has come out of here. They might not even know who they are going to see (as one reporter did when she arrived) but they know that good things are happening here.

I think most of the scientists at Toolik understand that for their work to mean something on a larger scale they need to have some relationship with the media. The media are not the only way to get the word out but they are a piece of the puzzle that needs to be used (or worked with.) (Importance and relevance can be judged in many ways, but the fact is that there are probably more people in Billings with subscriptions to the Gazette than to Nature.) Even if they don't ask the right questions immediately the fact that they have come this far certainly indicates that they appreciate that important work is happening here.

It took a lot of rambling for me to say that I met a nice reporter yesterday.
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