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GeoConnection Webinar:
Geoscientists in the Media

This is the second of our GeoConnection series of webinars which bring leaders from different employment sectors to discuss prospects for careers for geoscientists in their field. This webinar focuses on opportunities for geoscientists in the media, including both as a content producer and as a content/production advisor.

Our panelists include:

Carolyn Gramling, from EARTH Magazine (, who will look at a career in science writing.

Doug Prose, from the Earth Images Foundation (, who will explore the experience of becoming a film maker with a focus on earth science themes.

John Copeland from Evergreen Films, a producer with extensive history in broadcast and cable TV productions will look at the role of geoscientists in consulting on projects.

Following the panel presentations, you can listen to the open discussion period in which audience members from around the world to ask questions of the panelists.

Additional Resources

Excerpts from the "Formative Evaluation Report for the Earth Images Foundation (2006)"
These survey results were based on a national web survey of PBS viewers, science programming viewers, and high school educators. The report examines this population's knowledge of and interest in the earth sciences, including media viewing habits and interests.

AAAS Mass Media Fellowships

Who’s eligible:
Enrolled students in a scientific field

Principal goals of the fellowship:
1) Enhance coverage of science news
2) Strengthen ties between scientists and journalists

EARTH Magazine:

Science Magazine:
Science News Magazine:

A partial list of other science writing internships:

Additional Questions & Answers from the webinar:

Q: What were the names of the 3-D animation programs that are available for home computers?
A: (Copeland) The computer animation programs are: Maya, 3D Studio Max, SoftImage (all made by Autodesk) and Lightwave (made by NewTek).

Q: It has been observed that mass media is declining as the internet rises. How are you preparing to adapt to this transition?

A: (Copeland) I disagree that mass media is declining.  Published media such as newspapers and many magazine are migrating to the internet.  I find it easier to deal with those on my computer since I can easily format the information that is of most interest to me. 

In the recent economic down turn, television viewing has actually gone up as has movie attendance.  There is likely going to be some convergence in the future between computers and tv sets - but watching a program is still for the most part a passive, sit back experience, where interfacing with a computer is a sit forward and engaged one.

Q: I keep hearing the word “story” – presumably, the journalistic approach requires that the “story” be found - but that also seems to suggest that the element of entertainment is important to what you are doing. Would you say that’s true?

A: (Copeland) Even with non-fiction subjects, finding the story is important.  Some great examples of that are a couple of books that I can suggest - "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" by James Hornfischer and "Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate" by Bill Ruddiman.  One of these books is history the other science, but both very effective because the authors found the story to tell in a dramatic fashion.

As to entertainment, I think most educators will agree that folks learn more if the lesson is presented in an entertaining manner than simply the "facts."  I know in college when my Western Civilization Professor leaned forward on the lectern and said, "You know, Napoleon was suffering from dysentery during the campaign at Waterloo - it's likely what lost him the battle." Well that made us all pay attention - you don't think of those kinds of ailments affecting the out come of empires.

Q: I recently had the opportunity to conduct research in a remote area of the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica. Although I had a web journal, I would like to make a video of this experience. My background is in geology and I am wondering what advice the panelists can offer to tell my story. It was much more than the science: the weather, the wind and the cold and the entire experience of surviving the region is a story.

A: (Copeland) My first question to you is do you have video of your time in the Dry Valleys region?  if so, then you could easily make a video journal that could be put on a blog page or even uploaded as "Chapters" to a video site like You Tube.  There are several inexpensive video editing programs available.  I'll bet that LA Valley College even has a relationship with an outfit like Apple or one of the others that can get you a "student" (those are the real program, but just provided very inexpensively to students) that could get you on your way.  You might also see if there was someone on campus that is in the communications program or the like that might be able to help you.  Having a visual record of your experience could make for a wonderful viewing experience, not just on the web, but also as a class project.  One of the things that I discovered while still in college was that if I thought about it, I could make some of my student films work as a project for one or more classes.

The computer animation programs are: Maya, 3D Studio Max, SoftImage (all made by Autodesk) and Lightwave (made by NewTek).  You may even find it possible to get copies of these programs through your school.

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