To overcome this problem, and to assist the SAA Washington Office in fielding the growing number of requests from journalists, the Public Relations Committee proposes to develop a press information referral network consisting of professional archaeologists willing to provide expert commentary at the local and national level. This list will be maintained at the SAA office and individual names given out only in response to specific requests for a particular subject or geographical area. Members in this referral system would serve as occasional press contacts to verify and identify the significance of various archaeological news stories. This method of providing the press with solid information will, over time, serve the profession by creating a more enlightened public, one educated to the relevance of archaeology.
We know why it is important to preserve the past for the future, but the public will not know or care unless we use the press to create public advocacy instead of indifference. Reporters, usually pressed for time and eager for a quick answer, will come to the SAA office if they know that one phone call will get them the right expert, the background material, the interview, and the facts to back up their stories. It is up to us to help them get it right and get it fast.
Of course, in order for the referral network to be useful, the media need to be informed of its existence. We will use the various newswires and Internet services to inform the wire services, major networks, and science writers about this "one-stop shop" for answers to all their questions on Americanist archaeology.
The only way this press information database can work is with your participation. We promise not to abuse your time or your patience with too many calls or pointless foolish questions. Please take part. If we are not willing to set the record straight -- if the public continues to be uneducated -- we will have only ourselves to blame if our sites are destroyed and our research funds dry up.
Take a moment to complete the form printed below, and send it to Elin Danien, Chair, Public Relations Committee, 2316 Lakeview Drive, Yardley, PA 19067. Or send the information via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will compile the list and pass it on to the Washington office, where it will be maintained.
Renata Wolynec is at the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Public Relations Committee.