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A quiz for journalists – what would you like to hear?

September 25th, 2007

Dr Petra

I’m always interested to hear what journalists think about working with experts, and also how they would react if in our shoes. Over the past few months I’ve been sharing some experiences with colleagues about working with the media so today I’m asking journalists what you would find most useful in the following situations.

The point of this quiz is to get journalists thinking about the way experts experience working with the media, and also to help those who work with the press (academics, therapists, educators and healthcare practitioners) understand what it is journalists want from them.

Here’s how to play. Simply answer a,b or c to questions 1-6 for the things you’d like to happen the most in each situation, then repeat listing the things you’d like to happen the least. Email me your answers to info@drpetra.co.uk and I’ll reveal your views in a later blog (anonymised of course).

These questions may seem fairly obvious at first glance but they represent very common scenarios for those working with the media – and are situations in which we’re often unsure what to do for the best. The answers all represent actions taken by experts in these situations when they’ve not been sure what to do. Having some clearer answers would help us know when to help out, and when to hold back.

Question 1

You leave an expert a message on their answering machine about a story. The expert returns the call but you’ve already found someone else for the quote. You name the person concerned. The expert knows this person isn’t well qualified and considered something of a charlatan amongst their peers.

What would you like to happen most/least?
a. the expert tells you the person you’ve got a quote from isn’t well qualified
b. the expert doesn’t let on about the other person’s qualifications
c. the expert is offended and won’t work with you again

Question 2

You’re asked to put together a feature and research the area before calling experts for a quote. Unfortunately your research wasn’t that good although you weren’t aware of this.

What would you like to happen most/least?
a. nothing, the expert just gives a quote
b. the expert points out you’re on the wrong track
c. the expert tells you it’s better not to try and research things before calling people

Question 3

You’re making a TV documentary and need some case studies. You’ve tried a number of websites and professional organisations but they won’t help you. You try an expert.

What would you like to happen most/least?
a. they refer you a case study
b. they tell you ethically they can’t put you in touch with someone they encounter in therapy/research
c. they refer you someone but say it’s your responsibility if there are any complaints or problems

Question 4

You’ve found a survey you think would be a great talking point for your radio show. However the survey is actually based on a dodgy study and isn’t accurate at all. You call an expert to ask if they’ll join in a discussion about the survey.

What would help you most/least?
a. the expert says they can’t help because the survey is nonsense
b. the expert offers to explain on air why the survey is nonsense
c. the expert offers an alternative accurate survey to use instead

Question 5

You’ve written a feature quoting a particular expert. They take exception to what you have written.

What would you like to happen most/least?
a. they write to you pointing out the problem
b. they write to your editor pointing out the problem
c. they write on their blog or on a public forum pointing out the problem

Question 6

You’re making a TV show on what you’re led to believe is a cutting edge issue. The show is in production and you speak to an expert.

What would you like to hear most/least?
a. the programme’s on the wrong topic but they can help you change it
b. the programme’s on the wrong topic and they know you won’t be willing to change it
c. they don’t bother to tell you the programme’s on the wrong topic

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