How are General Assembly press conferences selected?
The Head of Media, Communications and Outreach organises 8-10 press conferences at the EGU General Assembly each year. She ultimately decides on the topics for media briefings, but the choice has considerable input from session conveners who, in the first instance, highlight abstracts of interest from their sessions. The EGU division presidents/programme group chairs also have a say as they can, for example, veto a particular topic. The process of choosing the topics and speakers for press conferences is detailed below.
Note that the number of press conferences is limited to 8-10 because there are typically only about 40-50 media participants to the Assembly and because this is the number the press officer can organise given her other work commitments before and during the Assembly.
After the deadline for receipt of abstracts, about thirteen to ten weeks before the Assembly
Conveners select papers of media interest submitted to their sessions. The programme group chairs have access to selected papers at the ‘PCI – Abstract Implementation & Session Tagging’ stage and can highlight or remove specific abstracts. The final list, consisting of a few hundreds of abstracts, is passed on to the press officer who chooses the 40-50% of the abstracts of interest to journalists and the wider public and condenses them into a more-manageable long-list. She also emails programme group chairs in early February to find out whether there are additional abstracts they would like to highlight. In addition, she browses sessions and abstracts not highlighted by conveners or programme group chairs to see if there are other presentations that may be of media interest and adds them to the long-list.
At this point, the press officer also approaches external public information officers to understand whether scientists from their organisations, institutes or universities are presenting results of interest to the media at the meeting. As of 2015, she also checks EGU journal pages to find interesting research under review in EGU publications that may be presented at the meeting.
The week after the February Programme Committee Meeting, nine weeks before the Assembly
The press officer looks at all the abstracts in the long-list again and combines them into a short-list of press conferences according to the following criteria (in no particular order of importance):
- Take the choices of the division presidents/programme group chairs into account;
- Evaluate again whether journalists would be interested in the research: does it present new or timely scientific findings? Is it a major discovery? Does it present a quirky or unusual finding that requires revision of a major scientific theory? etc.;
- Check what abstracts, from the various sessions, would go well together.
At this point, she also takes into account pitches by others, such as EGU scientists and press officers from other organisations. If the suggestions are newsworthy, they are added to the short-list of press conferences, which typically has 15 to 20 potential press conferences in total.
One to two weeks after the February Programme Committee Meeting, nine to eight weeks before the Assembly
The press officer discusses this short-list with other EGU communications staff (typically the EGU Communications Officer). Together they:
- Consider what are the 8-10 potential press conferences, from the 15-20 short-listed, journalists would be most likely to attend;
- Check the topics of last year's press conferences and the ones from AGU and try to avoid repeating press-conference topics, unless there have been significantly important findings or developments since then;
- Check whether any of the research results have been news recently and would, therefore, not be new anymore at the Assembly (from the journalists' point-of-view).
The press officer then selects 8-10 potential press conferences, which she sends (together with the provisional list of speakers for each briefing, if available) to programme group chairs for feedback.
Around the time the meeting programme is online, seven to five weeks before the Assembly
In the majority of the press conferences, it is clear who the participants should be (e.g. abstract authors, conveners). For these ones, the press officer starts inviting participants at this stage. In the case of other briefings, such as the ones suggested by external parties, the press officer can email conveners, division presidents/programme group chairs or external press officer to choose the best panellists to invite.
Once there is a rough idea who the panellists for each press conference will be and when they are available, the press officer starts scheduling each media briefing, after the General Assembly programme is published online. Note that the number of potential press conferences may be reduced at this stage since invited speakers may find they are unable to attend the General Assembly, they may decline to participate, among other reasons.
About four weeks before the Assembly
A provisional list of press conferences and speakers is published on the General Assembly media website and is sent out to journalists and the meeting-organiser Copernicus who organises the live streaming of each briefing. This is not necessarily the final press conference list: it is simply the list of press conferences and speakers that have been finalised when Copernicus requests the list for webstreaming. The list of press conferences and panelists can still suffer changes in the time running up to the General Assembly, as well as during the meeting itself.