Social scientists perform a multi-functional role as researcher, teacher and expert. The academic conference provides an opportunity for all these roles to be engaged and as such is a political and social site where meaning is debated and new research born. The conference is also attractive to journalists as news fodder. This article considers the relationship between journalists and social scientific organizations in the context of a professional conference and seeks to explain the tensions that exist. It concludes that the two cultures of journalist and academic are in conflict where they converge.