A social solution

January 5, 2017

Sometimes the solution to our problems is just staring us in the face. Helen Lees’ article “The media are the gatekeepers of impact, and they are doing a bad job” (Opinion, 13 November) is a case in point, with her tirade against journalists – these “non-research active people” – (arguably one of the most light-hearted insults the category has ever received) guilty of not recognising the merit of her “groundbreaking [research] offer”.

So Lees is advocating for some kind of “public interface – an institute with a website or something” to “cut out the middle man and woman of journalism” without explaining why or how anyone would get interested in the press releases of academic publications on such a website. And yet only a few paragraphs earlier, Lees had dismissed the face-staring solution by stating: “Getting super busy on social media…is not really on my overloaded workload matrix.”

Although I have a lot of sympathy for Lees with her hardly unique overloaded workload, I find her criticism untenable. Not all research needs to be “sexed up” to possess journalistic appeal – the example of Melissa Terras, director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, and many other scholars has proven that social media are powerful tools for public engagement.

In conclusion, might I suggest Mark Carrigan’s recently published book Social Media for Academics for all those who too quickly, and often snobbishly, dismiss such fantastic media of our times.

Anna Notaro
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design
University of Dundee

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