Sofie’s research is often visible in media — here are her best tips

Sofie’s research is often visible in media — here are her best tips

Mon 25 Oct 16:25

Sofie Blombäck, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSV) is often contacted by the National Media about political events and topical issues. Recently, Sofie was interviewed by both Swedish Radio and Swedish Television.

Sofie Blombäck

How come you were interviewed by Swedish Television?

— The journalist was interested in the initiative of the local parties mentioned in the section, and asked if it was a subject I knew something about. I have been researching parties that are not represented in Parliament, and on the division of votes, so I thought I could contribute with a little context. I do not actually know how it came that she contacted me in this particular case, but in general, the most common contact routes are either that a fellow researcher tipped or that the journalist has a colleague who previously interviewed me, says Sofie Blombäck and continues.

Political science is quite unusual as a research field in that there is often an interest from the media to get comments about current societal issues and political events, so it is not uncommon to have questions about different types of participation. And when you once stood up for an interview, it is quite common for the same journalist to get back to you the next time a political scientist is needed, says Sofie.

What does this kind of visibility mean for your research?

In the short term, not much. This type of media participation is seldom based on the research that I am doing at the moment, but rather from general knowledge that I have received from both research and teaching. In many ways it is actually closer to teaching, it is about briefly explaining theories and research findings in an easily accessible way. In a longer perspective, it is of course very important to show what my research field can contribute, so that there will continue to be a will from society to fund it, and very fun that there is an interest in the issues that I think are important and interesting, says Sofie.

See the interview from SVT with Sofie Blombäck about why more people vote at local parties

Sofie’s tips when a journalist calls

  1. Consider if you are the best person to comment on the topic. Even if it is not exactly what you are researching, you might still know more than anyone else, because there aren’t researchers who research about exactly everything. Then it is often good to stand up if you have time and can, so that we get as much scientific basis as possible in the social debate. If, however, you can come up with a colleague that suits better, tell the journalist about him/her instead.
  2. It is okay to propose a different wording or angle of the question. It is we as researchers who have special knowledge, which the journalist may not even know that it is interesting to ask about. If the interviewer is not receptive to that type of input, and one does not feel comfortable with the original question, then it is perfectly ok to refuse. For example, I do not usually do interviews that simply review who “would” a political debate or similar. It is just not my field of expertise.
  3. Don't forget to ask to see quotes! The more “technical” one’s answer is, the greater the risk of something getting wrong, especially when the journalist is going to cut down an interview to a couple of short quotes. Serious journalists don't mind, but usually they appreciate your help in making sure it’s right.