Science isn't spin

I am the Public Affairs Director at the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development (ORD).

I am the Public Affairs Director at the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development (ORD).

Recent off-base and factually incorrect charges against our communication efforts by a DC-based advocacy group stimulated half-baked stories in the media, put communication of science on the chopping block, and stimulated an audit of our practices. The criticism focused on a solicitation of interest for standard communication services and equated communication of science with propaganda and spin. I am pleased to report that the audit is complete, with all charges deemed unfounded.

Labeling science communication efforts propaganda and spin is anti-science and anti-government. Science communicators are striving for an informed public and deliver communication that is honest, thoughtful, intelligent, and based on science. We are answerable to scientists.

The public has a right to know what the government is doing, and agencies have an obligation to communicate their work. But we can't do this alone. Government communicators, in partnership with the media, can help ensure transparency and access to scientific information.

Top-notch scientists are conducting cutting-edge scientific research to improve public health and the environment. These scientists want their research results communicated to broader audiences.

As boundary spanners between scientists and journalists, ORD science communicators are working hard to deliver strategies that do just that. Our portfolio is research-based, includes indicators and best practices, uses baseline surveys to determine communication priorities, and is connected to our organization's strategic goals.

We need a paradigm shift in environmental journalism and science communication. We need the media to help us give scientists a voice. Communicating science affects our health, environment, future, and global competitiveness.

Donna Vincent Roa, Ph.D.
Civil servant, government science communicator, EPA's ORD
Washington

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