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Kaizo Live – Health, science and stories we trust

Watch our latest Kaizo Live, where Associate Director Kerry Lennox explores health and science communications in the media with Tom Whipple, Science Correspondent at The Times. Communicating reliable and accurate, yet engaging health and science stories has become increasingly important over the past years, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Kerry and Tom discuss our latest Kaizo research on consumer attitudes towards health information, answering who people should trust. Has the pandemic has changed the way the public view and engage with health and science information? How does the media influence the public’s attitudes? And how does Tom source and craft science stories that resonate with his readers? See the key discussion points below and watch for more insights:

How has the public engaged with health and science information?

Kaizo’s research reveal a shift in sources the public trust for health and science information, with a 30% drop in government health advisors and an increase in healthcare professionals. Inevitably this was going to change, Tom explains. The saturation of press conferences, expert opinions and news headlines has led to an increase towards skepticism. During the pandemic there was massive uncertainty, even among scientists, who released preprint research without peer reviews in the interest of time. Tom worries about the change from skepticism to cynicism.

Role of traditional media in public’s attitudes compared to social media

Tom says that a journalist’s role is to try their best to explain what was going on and cover new research responsibly. Explanation was hugely important during the pandemic. People tried to do their best in difficult circumstances, but have made some errors. However, some have been willfully disingenuous. The difficulty for reporters is that they can’t cover everything, and the act of not reporting on a topic may seem like you are ignoring it – which is a challenging situation.

People tuning out and less likely to interrogate

This isn’t surprising. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was massive engagement. Tom mentions that he was given 1,500-word slot everyday on virology and vaccinology – as people were interested in it. He completely sympathises with readers who do not want to hear about it now.

What makes a good story?

Tom states that there is an axis: the interestingness and importance of the topic. A human element to the story is always a great angle, as its relatable.

Watch the full episode here, hosted by Kaizo Associate Director Kerry Lennox. Browse our previous episodes here.

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