Dan Riskin, former researcher and currently host and producer of television programs, has written a blog article encouraging scientists/researchers to know more about doing interviews and therefore be more effective in communicating information and ideas.
Here is Dan Riskin's photo and biography from his book publisher:
"Dan Riskin was born in 1975 in Edmonton, Canada. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Alberta (BSc, 1997) his masters at York University (MSc, 2000), and his doctorate at Cornell University (PhD, 2006). He did postdoctoral research at Brown University (2006–10) and at the Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology of Boston University (2006–07). His work is mostly focused on the biomechanics of bat locomotion—the physics behind crawling on the ground, jumping into flight, flapping through the sky, and landing on the ceiling. Dan has traveled around the world for his research and won numerous awards for his research and teaching. He is the author or coauthor of more than twenty refereed articles in such journals as the Journal of Experimental Biology, the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, and Nature.
Dan’s first work for TV was on the Emmy-nominated History Channel show Evolve. Soon afterward, he contributed to Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me, and because of the success of that show, he appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Dan has also appeared on Human Nature (Discovery Science) and Bedbug Apocalypse (Animal Planet).
In 2011, Dan left academics to become the cohost of the world’s only daily science program, Daily Planet, on Discovery Canada. He is a regular guest on Canada AM, CTV NewsChannel, and CTV National News in Canada, and in the USA on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."
For a sample of his interviewee capabilities, here is Dan Riskin being interviewed on The Late Late Show:
"Working with TV crews: A guide for scientists/researchers"by Dan Riskin is from his blog:
The article has many tips. Here are a few excerpts:
"...I’ve written this article as advice, to help you have a positive experience when you work with people like me. If nothing else, I suggest that you keep in mind that TV crews will usually have different objectives than you will. Below, I explain that concept further, and then offer some suggestions that you, as a scientist interviewee, can use to feel a sense of control through the process....
...I think TV outreach is worthwhile for two reasons: (1) it gets kids into science, and (2) it makes voters appreciate science and scientists, so they’ll be less likely to elect anti-science governments. And why TV? Well, researchers do lots of great outreach through twitter and blogs, but sometimes I worry that a lot of that online communication happens among the people who are already singing in the choir. After all, here I am talking to researchers on a blog, right? Television is an effective way to reach people outside the ivory tower. That’s why I believe doing TV is a worthwhile use of a scientist’s time.
In case that’s not enough for you, one other important result from outreach through TV is that it gives you practice distilling your research for non-specialists, and that, ultimately, is something you need to be able to do for conference talks and grant applications. That alone should make TV worth the effort. (Yes, I just said that doing TV might actually make you a more successful scientist! Weird, right?)...
...Know your audience. Here’s one place where our training as scientists works against us. When you give a talk at a scientific conference, I think it’s fair to say that almost everyone in attendance is playing a game called “how can what that person’s saying be wrong?” And if they find a flaw in your logic, or a mistake in your methods, they will stand up at the end of your talk and announce it to everyone in the form of a question. It’s no wonder we get scared when we talk about our work.
The good news is that your appearance on TV is not a candidacy exam. Almost none of your peers will watch you on TV, and even if they do see you, they can evaluate you by the scientific papers you write, thank you very much. Do astronomers evaluate Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s knowledge of black holes by the way he explains them to Jon Stewart? I think not. Tell yourself that scientists are too busy to watch any TV anyway (that’s pretty much true), and instead, imagine your viewers as of a group of bright non-scientists.
Please, please, please. That last point is so critical. Please make an effort to remember that your viewers aren’t stupid. They are capable of understanding what you have to say, and you don’t have to give up on clarity or intelligence to be on TV. Distill your message to a few key points and then work with the TV people to get that message across. Don’t dumb your science down. Just be clear..."
Having dealt with arrogant, presumptous scientists before, I heartily concur with the last point.
Rather than repeat more of Dan Riskin's advice, I leave it to you to read more of this helpful article. Dan Riskin even addresses how and when to give reproduction rights which, in my experience, is best prepared for before starting negotiations.
In Dan Riskin's article, he mentions an article by John Hutchinson titled “TV Nature Documentaries: Why Bother?”. The link to that article has changed. The new link is:
John Hutchinson's article begins with:
"This is a rant, but stick with me and this rant might have a silver lining toward the end, or at least a voice of reason within the roiling cloud of bitter blog-scowling. And there are pictures of cats...."
Clever of him to put in pictures of cats!
If you have been on either or both sides of TV/movie cameras or are planning to do so, these articles may be of interest.
Please feel free to post relevant information.