Science Interviews

Interview

Mon, 15th Aug 2016

Behind the scenes of the newsroom

Chris Smith, Connie Orbach and Georgia Mills, Naked Scientists

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Every wondered how we put together a programme? Chris Smith, Connie OrbachThe Naked Scientists Team and Georgia Mills reveal all...

Georgia - Hi I’m Georgia and I’m one of the producers here at The Naked Scientists

Graihagh - There are three of us producers - Georgia, me and also Connie...

Connie - I’ve been here just over year.

Graihagh - Week in, week out, we three are the minions behind the scenes that pull the programme together - from coming up with an theme for a show, to finding and booking guests and also going out and recording reports. But we also set up the news interviews for Chris and Kat…

Not to be dramatic or anything but we have three short days to organise anywhere up to six, top notch interviews. And so, come Monday morning, the clock is already ticking…

Connie - OK. So we get in on a Monday and we tend to look at two main websites which give us all the embargoed news…

Georgia - So we kind of get a sneak peak so we’re there when the news breaks…

Connie - There’ll be some papers, especially on Nature, which don’t have press releases but, mostly, we’re looking at the press releases to give you that first kind of eye into the story. Because a paper title doesn’t always give you that much of an idea of what you’re looking for…

Graihagh - A circular inclusion with inhomogeneous non-slip imperfect interface in harmonic materials... hmm…

Georgia - And when we think about what’s important, what do people want to know, we have this kind of mantra -  it’s health, wealth and heart…

Connie - Things that affect our health, obviously, we all care about so much…

Georgia - For example…

Chris - As the US declares its first homegrown cases of Zika in Florida, we’ve learned that up to ninety million people, including over one and a half million childbearing women, may be affected across the Americas as the initial wave of the Zika epidemic unfolds…

Georgia - Then we have wealth…

Connie - Things that hit your pocket and, in science, actually there’s quite a lot of stuff which is just incredibly expensive...

Graihagh - This month, technology giant Apple have launched an all new ‘digital wallet‘ - called Apple Pay - where you can now pay for your groceries using your iPhone! But Apple isn’t the only tech firm changing how we manage our money...

Connie - And then heart is usually my favourite category. It’s just the things that make you laugh - we call them “and finally stories” quite often. You know, in the news, when they say “and finally, why penguins don’t get cold feet…”

Georgia - I like to get dinosaurs in there as often as possible…

Connie - That’s the “and finally” - I love “and finalies…”

Graihagh - Right. Are you guys ready for a news meeting?...

Georgia - We might pitch three or four ideas each…

Connie - Because there’s a lot of good science, and if we went for all of it, it takes forever…

Georgia - What’s next? The producer for that week picks the ones for us to go forward with…

Connie - We all go away and we've got our stories that we need to look up, and so we need to contact the scientists and make a research call…

Georgia - Hear it straight from their mouths…

Graihagh - Hi  - is that Professor Stephen Curry?  Yes good, how are you?

Georgia - Find out a bit more about it and set up interviews with them…

Chris - I worked out the other day I’d probably interviewed about three and a half/four thousand people since I started doing these programmes…

Georgia - And we get about a twenty minute interview with then and then this is cut down to about four or five minutes, which is often the hardest thing - what do you choose to go in the programme…

Connie - Hopefully, by Thursday morning we have all of our interviews…

Georgia - And then once we’ve done that we write up a cue, which is something that introduces the interview…

Kat - Connie Orbach spoke with the University of Cape Town researcher Claire Spottiswood who's been out to Mozambique to study the phenomenon...

Georgia - We send in the audio of the managing editor to decide the running order for the programme…

Chris - OK. I’m Chris Smith and I have the dubious pleasure of running The Naked Scientists and being the person who set it up in the first place.

In order to choose and order for the stories in the news we have to be thinking about several things - foremost is what’s our lead story? Because the first thing people want to hear is the thing that’s going to grab their attention; it’s going to make a big difference to their lives or the lives of many other people round the world, or it’s going to change the way we view the world as a human race.

So if you take Ebola as a good example. This has been around for forty or fifty years since it was first discovered. People had largely dismissed this as a tropical disease and not really of much importance, apart from to those people who, a handful of them each year, were catching it. Suddenly, it begins to spread…

Kat - This week the lowdown on Ebola. We talk to the people in Sierra Leone who are trying to fight the outbreak. A new vaccine trial that’s just kicked off and we hear how it’s not just humans who are affected by Ebola, but our closest primate cousins too...

Graihagh - That’s the lead story though, but how do you choose what comes next?

Chris - We don’t want to dwell too much on one interviewer; we don’t want to dwell too much on one subject, and so we try to create texture and movement in the news to keep people interested all the way through and provide them with a good snapshot of what’s going on across the whole scientific arena.

What we then do is that we get together and we write a script which uses all of those cues (those written introductions) and links everything together. And the two presenters, often it’s Kat Arney and myself but other members of the team also take part, we will then record those links in the studio and then we compile the programme by taking the interviews we’ve already done and putting them within those links...

Graihagh - And tadar!!! The Naked Scientists programme complete - Well, sort of! It goes through a series of checks and then is published on iTunes or Stitcher or whatever you use for your fine ears.

Chris - I think my favourite bit of the entire process is when I walk out of the studio on a Sunday night and you can say “that was a blinking good programme, I really enjoyed doing it and “phew” I’ve got tomorrow when I don’t have to do any interviews.”

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