When physicians meet the press

“With added [academic] degrees, something happens to one’s ability to speak English,” said Nancy L. Snyderman, M.D., who, as a practicing surgeon and medical correspondent for ABC News, straddles the line between medicine and the media. Speaking to doctors and residents at medical grand rounds in March, she offered some basic advice for dealing with the press: “Keep it simple.” On a video screen she showed a clip of an M.D./Ph.D. who was unable to shed the jargon of her work throughout an hour-long interview. “She’s brilliant,” Snyderman said. “She never made it on television.” In our sound-bite society, the average news piece is 90 seconds. Snyderman’s recommendation: “You should know in your head the three things you want to get out. If there are things that you really have to explain for someone to get it, skip it. It is either going to get reported incorrectly or it will take you down the wrong path.”