Our Stories: Jenna Jambeck – Communicating clearly in the spotlight

We blog here with brief updates or reflections on our work, while our website provides examples and descriptions of what we do. We are excited to continue sharing our series of stories, focused on longer timelines and richer details. Today we posted a story about Jenna Jambeck and her experience sharing new research with the media, and how we helped her. Read more of our other stories here.

Dr. Jenna Jambeck, of the University of Georgia. Photo Credit: UGA/Andrew Davis Tucker.

Dr. Jenna Jambeck, of the University of Georgia. Photo Credit: UGA/Andrew Davis Tucker.

Jenna Jambeck was exhausted, but happy. She had spent four days talking with reporters from around the world. Now the embargo on her latest research was lifted, and the headlines were hitting: New study shows plastic in oceans is on the rise … World’s oceans clogged by millions of tons of plastic trash … 8 million tons of plastic clutter our seas.

These and other articles appeared in nearly 70 outlets in early 2015, from NBC to the BBC, from The Huffington Post to the South China Morning Post. Even The Onion took a characteristically wry crack at the topic (Officials urge Americans to sort plastics, glass into separate oceans). Because Jenna and her coauthors had worked with COMPASS to support their outreach when their research was published in Science, they were prepared to handle the media onslaught.

“I think we knew that this was going to make somewhat of a splash, but we didn’t know how big,” Jenna reflected later. “Then our first interview was for BBC radio—we hadn’t thought it was going to get that kind of international attention.”

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