This article in the Science Career section has many useful advice and tips on dealing with the media. However, what I found to be more useful is that this actually is how a scientist should also deal with the public when speaking about his/her research work. Many of the issues that surround the problem in dealing with the media appears to be the same problem that one would deal with in one's interactions with the public.
Indeed, scientists frequently complain about mistakes and inaccuracies. "Scientists regard different things as being incorrect: firstly, the fact that particular aspects are omitted; secondly, simplifications; and thirdly, actual errors," Scherzler says. Scientists need to understand that communicating science to the public is very different from communicating it to one's scientific peers. "Omissions are ... always necessary in journalism, because space or airtime is restricted. Simplifications are also inevitable so that the audience can follow the topic. Errors are, of course, annoying," she adds.
This should warn the public on the nature of the reporting that they are reading. It should give them some perspective on how things have been simplified for their consumption. So at no time should they be deluding themselves that they are getting the full picture. You'd be surprised how many people think that what they read about science in the newspaper is entirely accurate and complete.
And then, there's the issue of how and what are being reported.
There's a chance, of course, that journalists won't represent your research accurately, and this concerns many scientists. Nine out of 10 researchers Peters surveyed worried about being misquoted, and eight out of 10 thought journalists were unpredictable. In Crockett's experience, "popular press' takes on the paper [can be] quite far removed from what the research presented," she says. In her Science paper, Crockett and her colleagues found that healthy people are more prone to retaliate to unfairness when their brain serotonin levels are reduced through diet. In some accounts, the coverage "somehow inferred that we should eat more chocolate so we can be nicer to each other," Crockett says.
In other words, just because you said something with one particular meaning, doesn't mean that the receiver of that message understood it with the SAME meaning! Many scientists have been guilty of using "buzzwords", either to simplify something, or to catch the public's imagination (example: teleportation). Unfortunately, the public has a wide range of imagination that isn't necessarily based on reality or what was meant in the first place. We are then left with dealing with the misinterpretation and trying to correct it.
The other part of the article even re-emphasized this point.
If you're not careful, your expertise could be used for topics you'd rather not be associated with. Some time ago, "a tabloid journalist called an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute. He wanted to know when Venus, Mercury, and Saturn would be especially close to each other. ... The next morning, the name of the scientist could be found in the same breath as recommendations regarding the best time to have sex according to the planets," says Diane Scherzler , who gives media training courses for academics and is an editor in the online department of Suedwestrundfunk, a German public broadcasting company. Before agreeing to an interview, "it is very important to make clear with whom I am talking, what is this journalist working on, what kind of story, for which magazine or program," Peters adds.
That last part is what I have called the "bastardization of ..." so-and-so. I've listed several bastardizations of quantum mechanics in this blog. One should no longer be surprised that something in science is taking way beyond what it says and can do and gets bastardized into some crackpottery. That's a fact of life it seems nowadays.