David P. Ropeik is an international consultant, author, teacher, and speaker on risk perception and risk communication. He is also creator and director of Improving Media Coverage of Risk, a training program for journalists. He is a regular contributor to Big Think, Psychology Today, Cognoscenti, and the Huffington Post.
He was born March 6, 1951 in Albany, NY and grew up in Trenton, NJ. David attended Northwestern University where he received a BSJ from the Medill School of Journalism in 1972 and a MSJ the following year.
Following graduate school, David began as a radio and television reporter for WTIC in Hartford, CT, which was soon sold to Post-Newsweek and became WFSB-TV. In 1977 he joined WCVB-TV in Boston as a reporter. David became a specialist in environmental news and was an early member of the Society for Environmental Journalists (SEJ). While at WCVB, David won two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in television journalism. He also won a national Gabriel Award, National Headliner Awards (including a Best of Show additional honor), and seven regional EMMY awards.
In January 2000, Ropeik joined the Harvard School of Public Health, as Director of Communications for the Center for Risk Analysis and faculty member of the school's professional education course "The Risk Communication Challenge". He went on to become Instructor of risk communication at the school and co-director of the Risk Communication challenge course. He has taught courses on media coverage of risk issues at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the Nieman Fellowship Program, The Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT, Boston University's Program in Science Journalism, Emerson College, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writers, the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Environmental Journalists.
With the then-director of the Center for Risk Analysis, George Gray, Ropeik co-authored the book "RISK, A Practical Guide for Deciding What’s Dangerous and What’s Safe in the World Around You", published by Houghton Mifflin in 2002.
In 2006, Ropeik left the School of Public Health, though he continues teaching in the Harvard Extension School He is now an independent consultant to government, business, trade associations, consumer groups, and educational institutions. He has written dozens of articles on risk perception. Ropeik is also author of the book, "How Risky Is It Really? Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts," published in March 2010 by McGraw Hill.
He served as the risk communication member of the Congressionally mandated Veterans Affairs Board on Dose Reconstruction, which oversees the joint Department of Defense and Veterans Health Administration program to compensate veterans exposed to nuclear radiation. He was an Advisory Board member of the America Prepared campaign for terrorism and natural disaster preparedness, a joint effort of the Department of Homeland Security, the Advertising Council, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and a consortium of businesses and individuals.
- WFSB#Notable alumni
- WCVB#Notable alumni
Partial List of Publications
Risk Communication and Non-linearity", lead article of Volume 15 of the BELLE Newsletter, a journal about a new approach to toxicology, 2009
Risk Communication, More Than Facts, an article for the semi-annual magazine of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 2008
“Risk Communication, An Overlooked Tool for Improving Public Health”, a chapter for the textbook Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 2008
"The Consequences of Fear", EMBO Reports (The Journal of the European Molecular Biology organization, Science and Society Special Report), vol. 5, 2004
"How Risky is Flying", PBS-NOVA essay on risk perception for a program they did on the risk of dying in a plane crash.
Never Bitten, Twice Shy: The Real Dangers of Summer, opinion essay, New York Times, Aug. 9, 2003
Risk Communication: A Neglected Tool in Protecting Public Health, Ropeik D, Slovic, P, Risk in Perspective, vol. 11, issue 2, June 2003
Dealing with the Danger of Fear: The Role of Risk Communication, Health Affairs vol. 21, no. 6, 106-116, Nov./Dec 2002
Be Afraid of Being Very Afraid, opinion essay, The Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2002
Conquer terrorists most powerful weapon: Fear, opinion essay, USA Today, September 27, 2001
Let's Get Real About Risk, opinion essay, The Washington Post, Aug. 6, 2002