communication science

Story. Story. Story.

Lloyd Davis

If you’ve got bad news, don’t hit them over the head with a hammer – give them hope

Lloyd Spencer Davis is the Stuart Professor of Science Communication and Director of the The Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago. He is a leading authority on penguins and sociobiology – behavioural ecology from an evolutionary perspective. He is also an award winning author and filmmaker. In his Looking for Darwin he manages to squeeze the science of evolution into a rollicking yarn of travel and personal discovery. We explore the relationship between science and communication. Putting him on the spot, we ask for the top three things a budding science communicator must do. “Story” he says. Three times.

Focus on the story, and use whatever device you can to get that story told. Jeopardy, tension, star presenters. The package must be exciting.

People are turned off by stories of doom – they want hope. The story must empower them, even if the news is bad you can do something about it.

communication documentary television

Activist storyteller

Peter Hayden

I am a storyteller.  I am an activist, I have to be – there’s a hell of a lot to be activist about.

Peter Hayden describes himself as a storyteller, an actor, a film-maker and a naturalist. A generation of Kiwi kids describe him as an inspiration – they are now our scientists, decision makers and environmental activists. Peter has presented and voiced hundreds of nature documentaries on television including Wild South, Journeys Across Latitude 45, and directing series such as Moa’s Ark. And now he has a new book “An Extraordinary Land: Discoveries and Mysteries From Wild New Zealand” (publisher, review).

bringing the drama element to natural history

Trainspotting: This guy on a bike wasn’t Sam, but it might have been:

This guy on a bike nearly ran me over crossing university campus and shouted out “I am here because of you”.

communication participation

Socially enterprising

Louis Brown

Louis Brown mobilises people to do good.

Passionate about getting more people off the couch and active on important community issues, Louis Brown is an inspirational social entrepreneur.

Louis Brown won his first job at the age of 11 in the tiny West Coast village of Fairdown skinning discarded dead calves for $1 a pop.  This set the course for his life, balancing the seesaw of eeking out a living and following visions that make a difference to society.

He studied education and commerce after he finished high school in Christchurch and worked for three years as the Executive Director of the community organisation Social Innovation, which he also co-founded. These were three of the most important and meaningful years of his working life, spearheading the large-scale Love your Coast and Student Volunteer Army social movements.

Louis is working on the Scarfie Army, a new movement for Dunedin students and other start-ups to drive and support thousands more citizens to be a ‘working voice’ for a better future.


Shane’s number of the week:  400.  (NASA).

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: Back from a whistle-stop tour of Europe, Sam is brimming with things to talk about and people he’s met.  Some great shows coming up.

communication media

Storyteller challenging ideas

Allan Baddock describes himself as a storyteller. He tells us the story of identifying audiences and tailoring messages in film and print since the 1970s. Sometimes this means bring unpalatable ideas into mainstream thinking. Our discussion ranges from Lenin to milk, from iconic landscapes to marketing, and from stolen revolutions to reality TV.

Shane’s number of the week: 21 is the number of opportunities for Green Growth identified in the recent Pure Advantage report.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: Today the Otago Energy Research Centre held its annual symposium. Sam went along and cam back excited by some of the research. We’ll be hearing more from these people over the next few weeks.