Kiane de Kleijne on appearing in the media

Kiane de Kleijne
You can overprepare, but you also just have to go and do it
Kiane de Kleijne, promovenda milieuwetenschappen

In February 2022, PhD student Kiane de Kleijne and her colleagues published a paper with an uncomfortable message: a group of technologies that numerous companies worldwide are using to curb CO2 emissions are insufficient to meet the standards envisaged in the Paris climate agreement. A wave of interview requests from Dutch and international press followed. 'I had really nice conversations with journalists,' she said.

Since her research was published, De Kleijne is still occasionally approached by journalists who want to check something with her as an expert. 'I always enjoy that. It often turns out that I can tell useful things. Journalists usually also ask really interesting questions. Sometimes they are questions you haven't thought about at first, but they are relevant. As a scientist, it is sometimes hard to keep seeing: what does something mean, and who really benefits from this? These conversations helped me further in thinking about what I want to do with my research.'

Leap of faith

'It was the first time I had received so much media attention for my research. I had prepared tremendously well, because I was quite nervous about the questions that might come my way. But in my experience, you can prepare so well, but you also just have to go and do it. It is a leap of faith, but it is the only way to get the hang of it. I am much less nervous now when a journalist contacts me.'

Checking quotes

'What I also learnt is that journalists from different countries handle having their pieces read in advance differently. Dutch journalists usually wanted me to check their pieces and this allowed me to add nuance to my story. But other journalists from the United States or England, for example, did not give me the opportunity to check my quotes at all. This made me feel I had to be even sharper in what I said, it cost me more energy to give these interviews.'

'So a tip I would give to others is to make clear agreements at the beginning of the interview about counter-reading quotes. Even though it was uncomfortable at times, it did lead to quotes that I was completely behind.'

'All in all, I had really nice conversations with journalists. They were usually genuinely very interested in my research. On reflection, I thought it was more exciting than necessary beforehand. That's why I would pass on to young researchers who are going to talk to the press: 'Just have a bit of fun with it too, and the world really doesn't end if you don't know something.'