Society connects with the media

OUR SCIENCE WRITERS CONFERENCE Informs the Media about Endocrine Issues

Whether it’s diabetes, obesity, performance-enhancing drugs, or a number of other oft-covered endocrine issues, hormones are in the news every day. Unfortunately, some well-intentioned articles are inaccurate or lacking key information. If these writers had the opportunity to connect with the Society’s expert members, their readers would be better informed. That’s why every two years the Society hosts a Hormones and Health Science Writers Conference, exclusively for reporters.

I had the opportunity to speak with members of the media at the latest Science Writers Conference, held on Dec. 13th in New York City. There was a fantastic turnout, and our presenters did an exemplary job of clearing up misconceptions about hormones and the endocrine system, while educating attendees on the fundamentals of endocrinology.

It was encouraging to see reporters interviewing our experts during the breaks and after the event. They know how important it is to have credible and authoritative sources when crafting their stories, and it’s events like this that show reporters that the Endocrine Society is the go-to source for hormone-related issues.

Building Relationships

Twenty reporters came out to the event, representing outlets such as TheNew York Times, Shape Magazine, Everyday Health, Medscape, and MedPage Today. Thequestion and answer periods were full of insightful questions, and the way journalists furiously scribbled notes reminded me of my school days.

Our previous Science Writers Conferences have shown that the connections made with reporters can be long-lasting. As past attendees develop stories about endocrine-related topics, they often remember these presentations and contact the Society to arrange an interview.

Hot Topics

Thegreatest challenge in organizing this event is creating an agenda of presentations that encourages reporters to make time in their very busy schedules to spend a half-day listening to a series of presentations. Thetopics must be compelling.

Past conferences featured presentations on whether or not male menopause is a real condition, the benefits and risks of menopausal hormone therapy, and the potential impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on public health.

This year’s event included five presentations on topics currently gathering a significant amount of media coverage:

• Dr. Daniel Bessesen of the University of Colorado, Denver, gave a presentation highlighting the importance of diet and exercise and expanding into when medication and weight loss surgery may be helpful treatment options.
• Dr. Robert Lash of the University of Michigan Health System talked to reporters about emerging advances in diabetes care including new medications and devices as well as an update on the development of the artificial pancreas.
• Dr. Stephanie Lee of the Boston University School of Medicine spoke to reporters about the potential health risks of taking thyroid supplements to address symptoms such as fatigue or weight gain in patients with no diagnosis of hypothyroidism.
• Dr. Shalender Bhasin of the Boston University School of Medicine gave attending reporters an exclusive sneak peek at the Endocrine Society’s new Scientific Statement on the adverse health effects of performance-enhancing drugs. He told reporters that elite athletes are a very small percentage of the population using PEDs, and that PED use is as prevalent in the U.S. as HIV infection or type 1 diabetes.
• Dr. Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago educated reporters on how losing sleep can wreak havoc on metabolism and provided data showing a link between sleep disturbances and increased risk of obesity and diabetes.

If you’d like to see these presentations, please visit: http://www.endocrine.org/news-room/science-writers-conference. Events like this are important, and it’s my hope that as we educate reporters, their readers will better understand how important hormones are to overall health.

Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD
President,
Endocrine Society

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