Reaching “an audience that you would never dream of speaking to”: influential public health researchers’ views on the role of news media in influencing policy and public understanding.

22 May 2012

While governments and academic institutions urge researchers to engage with news media, traditional academic values of public disengagement have inhibited many from giving high priority to media activity. In this interview-based study, we report on the views about news media engagement and strategies used by 36 peer-voted leading Australian public health researchers in six fields. We consider their views about the role and importance of media in influencing policy; their reflections on effective or ineffective media communicators; and strategies used by these researchers about how to best retain their credibility and influence while engaging with the news media. A willingness and capacity to engage with the mass media was seen as an essential attribute of influential public health researchers.