The Challenge of Public Dissemination

9 Jul

Welcome to the AAA Blog

The following post was submitted by Elisa (EJ) Sobo, Professor of Anthropology, San Diego State University.

The New York Times recently featured an op-ed piece titled ‘Academics seek a big splash.’ In it, Noam Scheiber assesses recent changes in how scholars relate to the media. Concurrently, Huffington Post published ‘An anthropological approach to California’s vaccination problem,’ which concerned a forthcoming peer-reviewed anthropological article of mine regarding vaccine refusal. The essay, and news of it, spread quickly over the Web.

As Scheiber notes in the ‘big splash’ piece, although academics “once regarded the ability to attract attention with suspicion” we “increasingly reward it.” Our newfound interest in cultivating mass publicity is in part due to the fact that funding agencies like it when the work they sponsor is in the news. This “has led to a new model of disseminating social science research through the media.” When journalists…

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