Media Training

Understanding the media: A starter guide for scientists

This course covers the basics scientists need to know about media engagement.

Scientists: Connect with SciLine

What are SciLine Media Trainings?

SciLine has facilitated thousands of interactions between scientists and journalists, always with the goal of adding research-backed evidence and context to news stories. We know that “the media” can seem like a black box to scientists and that speaking to reporters can be confusing or even intimidating.

This free, one-hour course—designed specifically for media-curious scientists with little or no media experience—teaches the basics scientists need to know as they consider dipping their toes or diving deeper into media engagement. We provide an overview of the U.S. news landscape, including the different types of media outlets and reporters a scientist might encounter (and what each is looking for), professional similarities and differences between journalists and scientists, and the risks and benefits of participating in interviews.

The course is led by Ph.D. neuroscientist Tori Espensen, with participation by freelance science journalist Elena Renken (NPR, Quanta Magazine, PBS “NOVA”). Attendees learn what makes a science story newsworthy, how to become more “findable” by journalists, and key concepts and etiquette norms to know when speaking to a reporter.

More Understanding the Media sessions will be scheduled in the future. Scientists, you can sign up here to join SciLine’s network and be alerted to media opportunities in your field of expertise.

Couldn’t make the last session? Here’s our schedule for future dates of this course:

  • May 21, 2024
  • August 21, 2024
  • November 18, 2024

Tori Espensen

Scientific outreach manager

Tori is a neuroscientist and science communicator with a background studying how the brain functions in severe mental disorders. She completed both a Ph.D. in biological psychopathology and a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and has written about science as a blogger, journalist, and scriptwriter. In her role as scientific outreach manager, Tori applies her scientific and communications expertise to finding interview-ready scientists to connect with journalists looking for expert sources. She also leads the curriculum development and instruction of workshops aimed at increasing journalists’ understanding of science and their comfort with incorporating scientific evidence into news stories.

Elena Renken

Manager, journalism projects & multimedia

Elena is a writer and editor focused on science. At SciLine, she works with journalists to provide them with scientific expertise and information. She leads SciLine’s research and production of Quick Facts, which offer background on science topics in the news, and manages SciLine’s region-specific initiatives to reach more journalists with offerings tailored to their reporting needs. She also directs SciLine’s multimedia strategy, including producing video clips for journalists’ use, and organizes on-camera interviews between scientists and journalists as part of SciLine’s Experts on Camera program. Elena earned a degree in science, technology, and society at Brown University, and her work has been published by NPR, Quanta Magazine, Nautilus, and PBS “NOVA”, among other national and local outlets.

More Understanding the Media sessions will be scheduled in the future. Scientists, you can sign up here to be alerted when the next training is scheduled and to join SciLine’s network of scientists.

Past sessions were held on the following dates:

  • Thursday, February 22, 2024
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2023
  • Thursday, September 14, 2023
  • Monday, June 5, 2023
  • Wednesday, March 15, 2023
  • Thursday, September 8, 2022
  • Thursday, June 2, 2022