We Need More Civil Engineering Voices in the Media – How About Yours?

July 25, 2012

As a civil engineer, you probably follow local media coverage of infrastructure and related topics of concern to the profession, or at least sit up and take notice when there is such coverage. Do those stories include the voice and perspective of a civil engineer?

Congress’ recent approval of a new surface transportation funding package was a great opportunity for civil engineers to offer their insights on its merits. I was gratified to read one such reaction in my local Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, from Greg Scott, P.E., M.ASCE, our Region 2 Governor. I reached out to Greg to thank him for adding an engineer’s voice to the story.

Have you read, seen or heard other reactions in the media from civil engineers? Was that reaction from you? Let me know in the comments below, and include a link to the story if you can.

More often than not, stories on infrastructure in the mainstream media, whether in newspapers, radio, on TV, or online, don’t include a civil engineering perspective when they should. We need to become more involved in commenting on and advocating for our nation’s infrastructure, in venues that are seen by the public. This ties in with ASCE’s longtime stance, as articulated in Vision 2025, that civil engineers must take a greater role in shaping public policy on the built and natural environment, and come to be regarded by lawmakers, officials and the public as experts on such matters.

You can be a source for local reporters. Next time you see a story in the paper, on TV or elsewhere about a topic that deserved a civil engineering perspective but lacked one, take note of who the reporter is. Reach out to them to let them know why such a perspective was essential, and of your availability as a source. It’s not as hard or as intimidating as you might think. Usually you can find the reporter’s email address and/or phone number at the media outlet’s website. Often, their email address can be found with their story online. If you intend to identify yourself as a Society member, ASCE asks you to contact the Communications or Government Relations staff first (depending on the topic), and they can help craft a message that reflects your views and those of ASCE.

What do you think about getting the civil engineering perspective into stories that deserve it? Do you believe there are barriers to access? How about you? Do you feel intimidated? Do you believe you lack the facts you need to articulate your position? Are there other factors?

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