How the Mass Media Cover Health, Science, and the Environment—and What You Can Do to Help

Speaking Science in Public Controversies
April 3, 2020 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Laura Helmuth, PhD

Incoming Editor-in-Chief, Scientific American

In an age of weaponized false information and viral conspiracy theories, major media publications are in an arms race to get attention for legitimate, evidence-based reporting about science, health, and the environment. This lecture will cover how the media are adapting to become more transparent about reporting practices and journalistic standards, using social media to reach people in new places, and applying lessons from research on communication. The lecture will include practical advice about how scholars, scientists, and physicians can suggest stories, become expert sources, and write for the mass media themselves.


Rebekah H. Nagler, PhD
Associate Professor
Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Minnesota


Susan M. Wolf, JD
Chair, Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences
McKnight Presidential Professor of Law, Medicine & Public Policy
Faegre Baker Daniels Professor of Law
Professor of Medicine
University of Minnesota

Continuing Education Credits:

Continuing Medical Education 

Accreditation Statement
In support of improving patient care, University of Minnesota, Interprofessional Continuing Education is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Credit Designation Statements
American Medical Association (AMA)

The University of Minnesota, Interprofessional Continuing Education designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Other Healthcare Professionals
Other healthcare professionals who participate in this CE activity may submit their statement of participation to their appropriate accrediting organizations or state boards for consideration of credit. The participant is responsible for determining whether this activity meets the requirements for acceptable continuing education.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for Attorneys
1.5 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits for attorneys have been approved. Event Code #279223

Following the completion of this activity, learners should be better able to:

  1. Outline how to distinguish between opinion, perspective, and news.
  2. Discuss strategies in identifying viral false information in mass media publications; to better judge the quality of reporting on science and medicine.
  3. Describe appropriate steps to communicate with reporters and editors at major publications with goal of having perspectives accurately represented.
Laura Helmuth

Laura Helmuth, PhD, is currently the Health and Science Editor for The Washington Post and the immediate past-president of the National Association of Science Writers. She has been an editor for National Geographic, Slate, Smithsonian, and Science magazines, and a freelance writer or editor for the New York Times, Nautilus, National Wildlife, Stanford Medicine and other publications. She is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Standing Committee on Advancing Science Communication, and she serves on the advisory boards of SciLine, High Country News, Knowable Magazine, Society for Science and the Public, and Spectrum and is a council member of the Geological Society of Washington. She has a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California at Berkeley and attended the U.C. Santa Cruz science writing program. Follow her on Twitter at @LauraHelmuth.

April 3, 2020