Providing information to journalists
The American Academy of Religion has a page dedicated to helping scholars effectively communicate with Journalists. Here, you can find information about what to do when a reporter reaches out to you for information. If you are interested in being contacted by journalists, be sure to join the UW Experts Database.
General Advice for Interviews:
- Get contact information from the reporter. Ask for their name, phone number, and media affiliation. This will be helpful if you want to contact them after the interview, respond to the final piece, or work with them in the future.
- Assess whether the subject they are reporting on falls within your area of expertise. You may want to ask for more time to gather your thoughts, or redirect the journalist to a different source.
- If you decide to go forward with the interview, set up a time where you will be able to focus in a quiet environment. At the beginning of the interview, establish whether or not you are comfortable being recorded. Recording allows journalists to transcribe accurate quotes. If you are not interested in being quoted and simply want to have a conversation about the topic, make that clear.
- During the interview, your main objective is to be clear and concise. Though the issue may be complex, do not get lost in minutia. Additionally, respond honestly to all questions. Tell the journalist directly if you do not know how to or would prefer not to answer any questions.
Reaching out to journalists
There may be times when you want to reach out to a journalist yourself. As Dr. Kathleen Culver said in her talk, journalists appreciate this more often than not. It is appropriate to reach out to a journalist about:
- any inaccuracies you see in their reporting, including misuse of terminology, dangerous generalizations, or misunderstanding of the complexity of a situation
- story ideas for them, especially if you know a specific journalist interested in the type of story you’d like to see
- advice about writing articles for a non-academic audience
- questions about the field, and the way journalistic research is conducted