After three decades, 350 Fellows, thousands of articles, and countless people engaged with the biggest scientific news stories of our time, the British Science Association (BSA) is seeking a new partner to deliver the Media Fellowship programme.

The British Science Association has been running the Media Fellowships scheme since 1987, with the aim of improving links between science and the media. The programme places working scientists and engineers at a national news or media outlet for 2-6 weeks giving them experience in, and helping them gain an understanding of, the media.

Over the years, the Fellows have reported from both ends of the media spectrum, from more specialised science outlets like Nature to more general newsrooms like BBC Breakfast.

As a result, many of the Fellows have become ambassadors in their institutions, advocating to develop better relationships between science and the media. Unsurprisingly, some Fellows have gone on to lead institutions, and others have made the move into media, continuing to create more opportunities for the public to engage in some of the big scientific stories of the last three decades. Behind almost every major science story, from black holes to giant squids, there’s at least one article written by a Fellow.

We remain really proud of all the scheme has achieved in the last three decades. It has had a real impact on the Fellows and the media contacts involved, and has positively affected the Fellow’s institutions through improved relationships between scientists and journalists. It has also, in many cases, strengthened relations between academics and their internal press teams.

Jonathan Ball, 2012 Media Fellow said:

“I am very grateful to the British Science Association’s Media Fellowship scheme for its pivotal role in nurturing my interest in public engagement, especially through the media, subsequently shaping my professional career.”

The scheme showed me how important it is for scientists to learn the skills needed to effectively communicate potentially complex science to the public. Following my placement at the BBC, I have become an avid science communicator and media commentator, something I would have never considered before my Fellowship.

“I appreciate the British Science Association’s focus on engaging audiences who are under-served by science engagement and encourage anyone interested to consider taking on this excellent scheme”.

The future of the Media Fellowship scheme

The British Science Association is now seeking a new partner to take over the running of the Media Fellowship programme.

We believe that science reporting in the media is incredibly important. In recent times, crises such as the climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic have further emphasised the necessity of strong collaboration between scientists and journalists to pass on crucial, accurate information to the public. And, the BSA continues to fully support all the outstanding work journalists, scientists and organisations are doing to improve this.

However, the BSA’s strategy has evolved towards delivering a greater proportion of our activities for audiences who are under-served by science engagement, such as the growth of our portfolio of Community Engagement projects and programmes.

While we will still deliver programmes focused on supporting the science engagement sector, (the Inclusive Science Engagement Network and UK Science Festivals Network) and also convene and influence stakeholder groups, such as the APPG on Diversity & Inclusion in STEM and For Thought, we aim to continue concentrating a greater proportion of our programmes in reaching and engaging under-served audiences with science.

And so, we want to explore the possibility of transferring this very successful scheme to another organisation, one whose work is more closely connected with the media.

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association said:

“On behalf of the British Science Association, I’d like to thank and show my appreciation to everyone that has been a part of the Media Fellowship scheme. We’re proud to celebrate the successes and the legacy of this pioneering scheme, and look forward to seeing how it develops.”

“In the 34 years of running the Media Fellowship scheme, the media sector has changed drastically. We have therefore taken the decision to step back from it and make our resources available to an organisation whose work is more closely aligned with the role of science in the media. We hope this transition will be an opportunity for another organisation to continue strengthening the relationship between science and the media.”

If your organisation is interested in this opportunity, please reach out to us via [email protected] by 23 July 2021. We will send over some more detailed information, resources, and a webinar invite to discuss the next steps.

The British Science Association would like to express our gratitude to all the Fellows, media hosts, sponsors, organisations and individuals that have been a part of the scheme since 1987. Your support has enabled the programme to grow and be successful for all these years.

If you’d like to find out more about our most recent Media Fellow cohort and their experiences of the scheme, we have a three-part Q&A series:

Find the full list of Media Fellow alumni here and a Media Fellow alumni learnings resource here.

If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].