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roundups & rapid reactions
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

roundups & rapid reactions

Rapid reactions: responding to breaking news. The demands of the 24-hour media machine mean that news journalists often don’t have the luxury of time to track down the best scientists when a science story lands on their desks, so availability can sometimes win out over expertise. This is where the Science Media Centre steps in. When a story breaks – whether it’s the latest flu epidemic or health scare, or a potential nuclear crisis – the SMC persuades leading experts to drop everything and engage with the story, then contacts journalists at all the major news outlets to offer those experts for interviews or immediate comment.


Roundups: putting new research into context. One of the other ways the SMC ensures that the media have easy access to scientists and their views is by offering journalists a variety of comments from scientists reacting to the latest research. This service differs from our ‘rapid reactions’ as scientists have time to react before new research is announced, rather than in response to breaking news.

With access to embargoed journals before publication, we can pick stories of most interest to journalists, asking third party experts to provide comments and information to put research into context before it appears in the media. The SMC’s unique roundups help busy journalists critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of new research, and highlight when studies are very preliminary or display a correlation that should not be read as causation. Equally, when leading scientists are excited about a significant study this can reassure journalists that the study should feature strongly in their coverage.

expert reaction to study on antibiotic use and type 2 diabetes

A study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology has examined what effect the use of antibiotics might have on the incidence of diabetes. The authors report that in a UK cohort of patients, treatment with one course of antibiotics didn’t significantly alter risk of developing diabetes, but use of more than one course of specific antibiotics was associated with an increased incidence of developing type 2 diabetes. read more

expert reaction to study on diet soda consumption and abdominal fat in older adults

A study published in the journal Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has attempted to establish a link between waist circumference and intake of “diet” soft drinks in a population Americans over the age of 65. They report that those who consumed higher levels of these drinks were more likely to gain more weight over the follow up period. read more

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