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A role model for Public Information Officers: best wishes, Earle Holland

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We often write about bad news releases and weak science overpromoted by academic medical centers and the like.

And then there’s the work of Earle Holland.

Or rather, there was the work of Earle Holland for 33 years at Ohio State University.

He’s leaving April 6, after being told that “that leadership wanted to take the funds supporting my salary and apply it to other communications initiatives, although I have no idea what those might be.”

Earle wrote to science writer colleagues:

“Yes, this was a surprise, a shock, completely unexpected, although somewhat understandable from one perspective. Institutions across the country continue to shift more towards an emphasis on branding and marketing with a focus on the brevity of the social media. My often-obstinate stance in support of strong journalistic reporting and the quality and depth of content tends to conflict with those who wish to emphasize only message points and slogans. While there is certainly a place in the world for persuasive communications, I’ve always thought that it was a questionable approach for public institutions telling the research story. The fact that I could maintain that stance for this long is admittedly remarkable.
In the 33 years at OSU, I have reported on the great work of hundreds of geniuses, taught science reporting to students for 22 years, had weekly science columns in both the Columbus Dispatch and the New York Times Syndicate for a combined two decades, won 49 CASE awards for both newswriting and periodical writing, written book chapters, managed dozens of research-related crises, served on several important national boards and committees, and been called friend by outstanding scientists and science writers alike from across the country. Most importantly, I’ve been privileged to mentor some wonderful young writers who have gone on to make a name for themselves.”

Thanks to Charlie Petit of the Knight Science Journalism Tracker for alerting us to this news.


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