Presentation - Sam Anderson

Presentation - Sam Anderson


A. Introduce GeneWatch

            a. Quick history of GeneWatch, its role 25 years ago and today

            b. How I got here, my background

B. How GeneWatch works

            a. Our considerations in putting together an issue

            b. Challenges and limitations

                        i. Material/logistical (time and money)

ii. Participation (convincing people to write articles for free; trying to reach beyond the familiar circle of contributors, often organizational allies)

iii. Messaging (push a single point of view on the reader or present a range of views, even ones we disagree with? Advocacy vs. journalism)

C. General media coverage of the same issues

            a. Where does it come up short?

                        Most common problem: discourse limited to soundbites

                        ex: Recent Times article on "criminal" genes, quoting Troy Duster

            b. Other venues (print and web news, TV etc.) have their own limitations

i. Journalists are on a tight timeline; in-depth discussion of a topic is not (usually) possible

ii. Due partly to time and space constraints and partly to journalistic objections (telling people something "new," something they haven't heard before), the space given to topical background is usually brief, too.

            ex: Particularly the case with technical and scientific concepts         presented to the "layperson"

… Also the case with complex (bio)ethical concepts; not much nuance left when a concept is paraphrased in one or two sentences

à At issue: even before coverage and discussion of a topic, a news story subtly frames it—purposely or not—through a set of core assumptions (e.g. genetic determinism/reductionism - "scientists have found genes for just about everything, why not this?")

iii. Journalists cover a range of topics, may often have to learn about the subject at hand on the fly, the same day they write about it

à Who do they go to for this? Here's an opportunity for us to impact the core assumptions behind journalistic news

D. Who is the audience?

            a. Who do we want to reach?

            b. Who are we actually reaching?

                        1. Ask the same questions of other media outlets