Communication Media: Ongoing Challenge.
In the anniversary celebrations, there is the risk to limit the perspective to the own navel; but it is always positive to look for the ongoing challenges when the balance is made. Maybe in the moment of this fiftieth, that I am honoured to live, is the perfect atmosphere to consider the non achieved subjects, which are the target for the next appointment.
From my personal and professional point of view, as Academic, as veterinarian, and as a pet clinic, I think that the main objective we have not achieved is the access to the media.
In these fifty years we are celebrating, it is obvious that lots of things have changed in the World, the society, in the profession, in this Academy, in all veterinarian specialities and also in communication media; even, if a pun is allowed, doubly in this last point because of a change of media and also the concept of communication.
And my feeling, referred to the veterinarian subjects, and especially in pet sector, can be defined with only one sentence: there is a lack of specialised journalists and there is also a lack of specialists capable to communicate.
It can neither be forgotten, in second term, the research of ways to accede to the media.
The problem, from my point of view, is common in all aspects of the veterinarian profession, without an exception from the pets world, but maybe can be accepted that this sector is the one where the big public knows better the role of the veterinarian, better than what knows, for example, about the health control of feed in production or industry. But even to know it is put behind other non- professional options that seem closer (commercial, hairdresser or breeder). What I am explaining is like it is, despite all about the animals we care at home is an attractive subject with sure success in a fix section of a newspaper, a web page or a TV programme. We know about this interest but we are not able to exploit ,handle or use it in the positive sense of the expression, in benefit of the animals, their owner and the profession; because we can not forget that communication can, and must, have the perspective of the information and education. In fact the concepts of communication, information and education, are part of an equation where they can be related in different signs.
As an example, the first delivery of the film Beethoven (the dog) was forbidden during more than a year in the USA cinemas because it gave a negative vision of the profession because the “bad” character was the vet; in Catalonia the National TV channel TV3, produced the serial called “Veterinaris”, that did not allow in any case the assessment of a veterinarian. Only in some rare cases, the assessment of specialists in the approach and final result is used.
All this without considering the unlucky informative management made in cases like A flu and the role of cats in its diffusion, or the case of bovine encephalopathy, or avian flue and the connected risk to ornamental birds. It is a miracle that there were no worst consequences to millions of pets.
In other informations, there is a clear commercial approach that discredits the content.
It is necessary that professional associations and especially the Academies, as guarantor of scientific level, have a recognised voice and are taken as a referent or any information that will arrive to the public light.
Who will know about this fiftieth, what is behind it and the scientific work? To whom will arrive this lines I am writing? We create and publish towards inside nor towards the world; we communicate for the people in our environment but we don’t accede to the main public, the consumer, the owner, even the dealer or any other professional of the sector but not veterinarian.
Not only we don’t find the appropriate language and the adequate media, but we are incapable to analyse the profile of the receptors we want to communicate to.
A lot of years ago, we published in the journal Animalia, which I had the honour to direct during 22 years, an interesting study, unique in its nature, promoted by the UAB by Prof. Jaume Balagué, where the appeared in media news and articles about pets where analysed, how many of them where signed by a vet or by an specialised , which was the origin of the others, and the result was discouraging. But if we take a look of what it is published nowadays, things have not changed at all.
There is left a lot of hard work to do, all aspects must be analysed, who treats the subjects, which subjects are still to be treated, how we treat them, and specially how the media can be accessed. Because what the media can apport, can not be misprized and above all, we can not misprize the opportunity to communicate that of our profession that interests for the social wellness.
It is possible that we need academic journalists or journalist academics, maybe we need a Public Relations Commission; anything useful to overcome the challenge.
Dr. Antonio Prats Esteve
“Catalonia Veterinary Sciences Journal”