Whether or not a proactive or positive outreach helps in the media setting, and how to integrate with the media, how to be friends with the media believe it or not. There are situations where it would be valuable to have these perspectives and maybe share their thoughts on how to best address this issue. A lot of that is going to come from you and how you wish to address this in your own individual communities. Raymond was unable to make it, we can hear his perspectives tomorrow if you want to follow up with him.

fbi pr rep dan grushkin rachel turner sascha karberg

We have 15min worth of discussion. I really don't think there's anything that has been left out. I think this is about a robust proactive image to engage with law enforcement. Rachael and Dan, and Julie brought up as well, so I want to open it up straight to questions. We have great advocates here, you can get a lot of great tips from these guys. Let's open it up for comments or questions.

Denisa: I really like Rachael's presentation because it showed the reaction of the public. So Sascha so what about those funny comics, what is actually the reaction to the public to these articles?

Sascha: We had a few reactions. The most important for us, was apparently a professor called the lab that provided us with primers and was furious at first. Why did you give these hackers your primers and so on? And then we were called by the company, they talked with us. It was an okay conversation. They were not happy about the press. We didn't mention the name of the company, but we said it was enough to identify the name of the company. I think the reaction was mixed. Some people are still kind of afraid about that. But our message in the article was that they can't achieve bad things in biohacking labs. I think msot of the readers got this message. The problem with the article was that it was not online, but now we have this version on another website where we already gathered some comments from readers and they are very positive about it. Where can I go to buy materials and stuff like that? Is it because they don't have the pictures in the online version? We didn't get so many reactions to the picture. Some friends told me that they didn't really, that the German public expects that actually.. the situation in Germany is very hyper-critical I would say.. everything comes in I would say. So, they expect that, that 's a nomral thing you can see. So the article was such a different approach that the narrative was, doing it yourself thing, was different perhaps that provided a better perception.

Ellen: I just wanted to add a couple of things. By the way, this was a really great session. I really thought that, it was really well laid out like the problems and what you can do about them. I wish someone had given me this talk 2 years. Dan, you tried to tell us, and I tried to listen, but I didn't. The bullet points make it so much more clear. I would like to stress some of the points. The probably best thing is to cultivate powerful advocates with people. That's the thing that is going to sway the opinion back after one of these things. In your documentary, Steve Kurtz was saying that he had a neighbor that he was holding up a sign saying he was not a bioterrorist, he was my neighbor. The entire arts community rallied around him. The documentaries were made, books were written, artists talked about it, the whole community raised up in outrage. If you have credible friends, in whatever community, that community will take their opinion over the press. Everyone trusts each other more than the press.

The second is that it took me more than the PBS interview, about referring people. It was obvious that after the H5N1 thing, they started off softballing on the questions, and then started to zoom in on this. What about another lab in your community? What about another lab outside this country? That PBS person was asking me about what is going on in Iran. So I told him that the government was the one to talk with. Referring him to someone like Nathan, or other people working in the field, is much easier than the professionals who have that knowledge and might be able to give that number. Just to toss the ball to you is probably the most valuable lesson to the interview. I can't believe he put that up as the part of the interview was tossing the ball to you. That was nice. Controlling what you say is the third point. I think all of us, we feel like if we give an incomplete answer it's a life. I saw this in biotech. People get desposed in biotech lawsuits, and they get this middle management guy, and they love to dispose them because they use techniques like insulting their credibility or confidence. "Oh, so you don't know everythingthat was going on in your lab? Does a lab manager usually do that?" So it's not necessary, and it's actually damaging to give complete answers, because they can be twisted easily. The honest answer is that yes there's probably someone doing something bad in bioterrorism out there, but if you say that, that will be your soundbite. The level of understanding of the Daily Mail is not going to be what your complete answer will be at.

You see politicians doing this. Just repeat the message that you want over and over again, until they get tired and realize they don't get further than that. When PBS walked into Genspace, the only guy there was the brand new member, and they decided they would interview him. He was completely unprepared. But what they didn't know is that he was a lawyer. They put some of his answers in the video, but they kept drilling and he wouldn't budge an inch. He was fantastic. You're not representing the entire DIYbio movement, so you should use this as a life raft. When they were interviewing Olliver and myself, they interviewed us, then they turned the camera around, they had the guy ask the same questions, they filmed the same questions, then they asked us for reaction shots.. the way it would be edited would be, something like Olliver and I looking at each other when they asked if there was anyone in the diybio community that does these bad things.

Reaction shots are completely normal. If they are directing you, then that's weird, and you could say it's weird, they should not directly refer you to imply something nonverbally. They were saying things like, look surprised, smile.. yeah they shouldn't be doing that. Just tell them to ask the question again. But they were definitely triyng to do something. This was public television, that's really unusual. When you are walking towards the camera, and if they start staging things there's a problem.

You control the interview. You have to go in knowing the things you want to say, if you want to say again, there's no problem saying that. If it's not life TV, you can always ask to redo the question or rephrase it. People get intimidated by cameras. With regards to the FBI, we get questions about a lot of issues. It's not an issue to ask to redo that question. It's a professional thing with that reporter and for you if you feel like you need to redo an answer. You actually control the interview.

I would like to say that is theoretical, it is good that jounralists ask many questions and ask often, because we all want a press that asks questions and puts up questions that might be uncomfortable for the public or society or whatever. But most of the time that is just a theory. Most journalists do not have the time do that research, to check your quotes and stuff like that. They come with an idea for an article, the article is already laid out when they come to talk with you, and they just want to have the right answers to fill in the blank to their article. Taking the time and talking with you and then taking the appropriate pieces from a 2 hour interview, that's just nto possible for the daily news and so on, not just the news paper called the Daily Mail ro whatever. I think that in these early days of these new things, like the FBI in the beginning with Steve Kurtz, it was a mistake, I don't know about the other cases, they were blank about what this guy was doing there. And the same situation with the journalists, they come to you and have no idea what they are doing, they will learn in time, maybe they will send a more experienced journalist in a few years, until we get comfortable with this scene. Then we might leave this Kurtz phase of reporting.

I just wanted to say that different media has different rules. You are luckiest when you get a magazine writer, maybe I am biased. They are the ones who have the luxury of time. They are going to follow you around in your day and hopefully they will write a nuanced piece. If it's a newspaper article and they have a daily deadline, they need to get that thing out quickly. If you are lucky the interview is 15min or 20min. It's a different ballgame. And then TV, it sounds like they have alerady done the storage before they get to you and then they just use you as filler. It's the same thing in the print media. If it's a documentary, then it might be different. It just depends on what the message and format is.

I think Ellen makes a good point. You represent yourself. Don't talk about what other people are doing. If you stick to this, you will be okay. One last question?

If you are asked an uncomfortable question, is it okay to decline to answer? How do you handle this? Preparation is always important, have something prepared in advance. I can't think of a question that was unanswerable.. if it's something that you are uncomfortable with, if you don't know the answer you could refer it. With the DIY biology ethos, with our community and with what we're doing, I can't see a situation where if you have done preparation that there would be that sort of question. Maybe you guys could think of really difficult questions before hand, and if the bad question shows up, and figure out what to say.

One strategy that annoys us but is effective is to just answer the question that you want to answer. If it's getting into an area out of your expertise and oh my god you're talking about nuclear warheads and I don't know anything, then you can just talk about how you are not qualified to answer but what I am qualified to talk about is blah... redirecting the question and swinging it to what you want to talk about and what you want to know. You do have lots of control, but lots of it is practice. The FBI does this all the time. When we brief our executive managers when they have to do the press conferences, we do some Q/A preparation. So for instance, if they ask about the joint terrorism taskforce.