Afterword: 2019 Mass Media Fellow Laura Fattaruso

Afterword: 2019 Mass Media Fellow Laura Fattaruso


My fellowship was amazing. I got to do so many different things. I got to visit so many different labs and see so many different types of science being done and work with reporters who are really working at a fast pace. And it was really fun to join in and be part of that for a summer. I got to do a lot of writing for the web. I pitched a lot of my own stories, which was really fun. And even the very first story, a pitch got picked up and a reporter covered it. So I got to go along with them and interview the scientists in their lab and see that go on TV that very same day, which is kind of wild how fast it is, especially coming from academia, where you labor over something for years before you share it with the public. So I got to go on TV live a few times to talk about stories that had been working on. And that was really nerve-wracking, but also really cool to get to go and share something I was interested in. I actually slept through an earthquake while I was in Seattle. That was a big deal for Seattle to have an earthquake. They don’t happen too often there, even though they are trying to prepare for a really big one. I got to talk to a lot of really great earthquake scientists while I was there. And that was really fun. And I was then prepared to kind of share that information with the public and also address some specific questions that the news station wanted to talk about, that they maybe didn’t know where to even start, like why did some people feel this earthquake and other people didn’t. And I got to write an article about why was the shaking stronger in some places that you might not have expected even though it was further away. I also had a lot of fun writing about mosquitoes and they looked inside mosquitoes’ brains and tried to understand what signals them to go after certain people and not others. And that was really fun because it was really cool science and also a topic that’s really interesting to a lot of people because we have all been bit by a mosquito. My favorite thing about the fellowship was really getting to talk to scientists, and just hear what they’re doing, and learn about new subjects too. And going into the fellowship, I knew that it would be a faster pace than I was used to. But I wasn’t really prepared for how fast it is. Just the daily news cycle is so speedy. People are making decisions about where to go and then they just run off and they’re recording it, and they edit it, and they’re getting it out to people that same day. The community of fellows was awesome to have as a resource, when questions came up like how do I get more information from my editor or does anybody know a source I could talk to about something like this. I also had the good fortune in Seattle to have a Mass Media Fellow alumni reach out to me who’s now a public information officer and say, ‘Hey, I saw that you’re coming to Seattle. Let’s get coffee and talk.’ So it was really great to get to talk to her and hear what that’s been like for her after the fellowship. My plan now is to go back to UMass Amherst where I’m working on a PhD in fracture mechanics basically studying earthquakes. And I think a lot of the skills that I developed during this fellowship will translate to better communicating my own research, really getting to the point of why I’m doing this, what it means for other people, and how it could be useful moving forward. The fast pace of the newsroom was a little bit intense for me. For 10 weeks, I could keep it up but I don’t know about sustaining that over a long period of time. I do love talking to scientists though. And so I could definitely see myself working for science organizations and helping communicate science to the public as like a public information officer, or something like that, I would love to do. you

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