Science and the Media Expert Group

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Science and the Media Expert Group was a group formed on the initiative in 2009 of Paul Drayson during his term as science minister as part of the Science and Society strategy for the UK.[1]

The Group’s Report, Science and the Media: Securing the Future , was published on 13 January 2010.[1]


Paul Drayson became science minister in October 2008. In September 2009 he appointed Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre as chair of the Science and the Media Expert Group and publicly offered to help scientists who felt that they had been misrepresented in the press.

He said the media had moved on from "scare stories" and deserved praise for high-quality coverage.
But he also offered practical help in response to audience concerns that scientists had no recourse if their words or findings were distorted, adding he would be "very happy" to be contacted about cases. He even provided his email address - via his personal Twitter feed - so that scientists could take up his offer.
"It is important for scientists, when they feel that they have been misrepresented by the media, not to accept it," Lord Drayson said.
"A government minister could investigate and on finding (evidence of misrepresentation), could follow up why it had happened," he explained. Ministers may be able to "ensure things were changed to reduce the likelihood of it happening again", he added.[2]

The aim of the group was said to be to 'develop an Action Plan', in order to:

  • help equip the media with skills to promote effective responsible reporting on science
  • develop ways to encourage more members of the science community to act as intermediaries with the media
  • explore the possibilities for an expansion of the role and remit of the Science Media Centre
  • work with lead departments and regulators to boost high quality science programming, targeted at a variety of audiences across a range of communication channels
  • build on the Science:[So what? So everything] campaign to promote a better/appropriate reflection/representation of scientists in the media.'[3][1]

It is notable that the group aimed to find ways to expand the 'role and remit' of the SMC, an organisation that Drayson had supported (and to which PowderJect had donated) since its creation in 2002 when he was the head of the lobby group the BioIndustry Association.

Group members

The group had a notable representation from people already involved with the Science Media Centre in addition to Fiona Fox. Paul Drayson's company Powderject was a donor to the SMC in 2002 and 2003; Peter Cotgreave had been a member of the board sicne 2002; Bob Ward had been on the board since 2007; Colin Blakemore works closely twith the SMC and Vivienne Parry had been on the board since 2002.

List of members

Chair Fiona Fox Science Media Centre | Dr David Levy Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford | Charlie Beckett Director, Polis (LSE think-tank) | Martin Moore Director, Media Standards Trust | Roger Highfield Editor, New Scientist | Peter Cotgreave Director of Communications, Royal Society | Bob Ward Policy and Communications Director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment | Alexandra Saxon Head of Communications, RCUK | Paul Nuki Chief Editor, NHS Choices | Prof Colin Blakemore Neuroscientist, University of Oxford | Kim Shillinglaw Commissioning editor for science and natural history, BBC | David Glover Deputy Commissioning Editor, History and Science, Channel 4 | Francesca Unsworth Head of Newsgathering, BBC | Vivienne Parry Science writer and broadcaster, Freelance; involved in the consultation | Terrence Collis Director of Communications, Food Standards Agency | James Randerson Editor, Guardian Online Environment [1]



Minutes of meetings


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 DIUS Science and the Media Expert Group, 2010, retrieved from the Internet Archive of 21 January 2010 on 17 August 2013
  2. Zoe Corbyn 'Drayson pledge on science coverage' Times Higher Education, 24 September 2009, accessed 19 August 2013
  3. BIS Science and the Media Expert Group, This snapshot, taken on 02/02/2010, shows web content acquired for preservation by The National Archives, Accessed 17 August 2013.