Dieter Lukas

     Causes and consequences of sociality

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Blog: my experience of interacting with the press

Together with Elise Huchard, I investigated the evolution of infanticide by males in mammals, where we found support for some long-standing hypotheses about why males kill offspring (the study is listed in the publication part of my website). We were happy that others seemed to find these findings exciting, and we received attention from the press. Here, I reflect on my experience of preparing materials for outreach and my interactions with the press. I put this material together for a roundtable discussion at NCEAS in an attempt to digest my experiences and learn more about the process of managing media outreach. I decided to share my thoughts here, and I welcome feedback on any aspect of this topic! As with any form of outreach, these interactions take time and energy, and I needed to overcome hesitations and open myself up in ways we usually do not perceive 'objective' scientists. But all of this is very much worth it: it was amazing to see the excitement and I think it made me a better researcher.

In somewhat chronological order, I address:

1) How did our findings make it into the press?
(Main message: Writing the paper is not the last task! If I want to share it with an audience, there's more to do)

2) What did it involve on my part to get our findings into the press?
(Main message: I learned a lot about my research by presenting it to a wider audience and interacting with great journalists)

3) Where did our findings end up, and who might they have reached?
(Main message: Explore the news universe to find out where scientific results are covered)

4) What made it into the news and how can I influence that?
(Main message: Invest time and energy before the outreach)

5) What did I learn from interacting with the press?
(Main message: Have a clear message ready, but be open to explore other implications)

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