Soton staff get ready for their close-up

October 5, 2007

Academics who readily answer journalists' pleas for instant expert opinions have often been derided as publicity-hungry "media tarts".

But now Southampton University is issuing a direct challenge to that attitude by encouraging its postgraduates and research staff to seek out the spotlight and "shine" by offering them media training.

The university's faculty of engineering, science and mathematics wants its staff to present their research to the public.

Postgraduates will talk with science journalists and a media consultant about what reporters are looking for and receive individual presentation training with video playback and coaching.

"Often [postgraduates] are the people who are doing the frontline research, and we find that very busy researchers would be happy for their postgraduates to talk to the media," said Joyce Lewis, a communication manager who devised the training. "Most researchers are keen to make sure that their research is known and appreciated and want to be seen to contribute to life, not just academic research."

Scott Steedman, vice-president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: "We've been hiding for too long. It's time we were able to engage in all subjects because we've got a lot to contribute."

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