The Australian Science Media Centre monitors the news to identify opportunities to inject evidence-based science into current issues.

We encourage experts to provide comment for the media on issues within their field of expertise. These comments are used by journalists in a number of ways:

  • To place directly in stories to help meet deadlines
  • A list of experts to contact for further information
  • An indicator to where experts stand on an issue
  • As background information

The media cycle is fast and intense. Journalists have to deliver copy for publications across a range of platforms including TV, radio, print and online, in the shortest possible time. To give your area of interest the best possible chance of media attention we have developed a short guide for experts who are providing quotes.

1.  Be quick. When contacted by the AusSMC or you spot a media opportunity and you make the initial contact with the Centre, please provide your quote as quickly as possible. The Centre will take it by phone or email.
2.  Be succinct. It is a challenge to keep comments on complex issues short. However two succinct paragraphs may be the maximum a busy journalist under pressure can take in. One punchy paragraph is even better!
3.  Make it interesting. Journalists are looking for your personal insight based on your unique expertise. A good quote can reflect a passion for an issue or could point to an angle that the media may not have reflected before.
4.  Be informative. Give only as much information as the journalist will need to make sense of the quote.
5.  Cut out jargon. Your quote is aimed at the general public rather than your colleagues. Journalists don’t have the time or inclination to decipher scientific jargon.
6.  Provide some images if possible. It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Picture stories get more prominence in newspapers and a sixty-second story on TV uses 20 different pictures. Graphs and pie charts can be very useful to the media too.
7.  Be available. The AusSMC may need to check your quote with you before it is sent out and journalists may wish to talk to you about issues raised by your quote. Please let the AusSMC know your availability and if possible please entrust us with an after hours number for you. (This will not be given to a 3rd party without your permission)

Examples of good quotes

Dr Bryan Fry on the death of Steve Irwin.
“Stingrays only sting in defence, they’re not aggressive animals so the animal must have felt threatened. It didn’t sting out of aggression, it stung out of fear.

It would have to have been a large ray with a disc size of up to 2-2.5 metres. They have a very formidable, jagged barb up to 20cm long. The strongly serrated barb is capable of tearing and rending flesh. The flesh wound alone can be horrific. It’s not unprecedented with a death reported at Melbourne’s St Kilda baths in 1945.

The stingray’s venom would not have been a factor. While extremely painful, stingray venom is rarely lethal.”

Dr Alexey Muraviev on the Heathrow terrorism plot.
“This recent threat at Heathrow airport provides possible clues as to how such terrorists are now operating.

Firstly, it shows an increased level of sophistication of the network planning such attacks. In the past they have focused on low tech, high impact attacks like the public transport bombings in London and Madrid in the past two years. This recent threat indicates that they have increased their level of technical expertise.

Secondly, the fact that the planning of the attack managed to get to an advanced stage during a time of heightened security awareness and counter-terrorism alert following the 2005 London bombings shows that the terrorists are quite sophisticated and very focused on overcoming protective barriers.”