Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Public Outreach

As a "Solar Eclipse Expert" my input is often sought after by journalists. The reach out via email and ask for phone interviews, video shoots, quotes, and so on. Sometimes I respond and the results can be interesting. Here are two recent articles where I consented to phone interviews.

We eclipse chasers can be difficult to interview. Terminology is important to us. Spelling is important (it is Baily, not Bailey!). Safety is important to us. And this can sometimes put us in conflict with the published result. An example is the use of a picture showing unsafe viewing of the Sun. Too often stock footage is used where people are seen using various things to view block out the Sun that are not recommended. The only recommended item is a solar filter, a modern one, that meets international standards. Sun glasses, CDs, film, and so on are simply not safe for a variety of reasons.

I have great respect for journalists. I used to write regular articles in magazine about subjects I knew intimately. As a result I did not have to interview people and try to understand what they were saying. Too often I have had experiences where journalists do an interview and then write what they understood or thought they understood. The result can be something that is wrong in one way or another. Should we blame that on modern education? Or our inability to clear communicate what we mean? Either way, the gap exists and one must be careful about what one reads.

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