From an old piece by Jared Diamond:
Later that day, during a group discussion about the importance of communicating science to the public, I commented on a disturbing paradox: scientists who do communicate effectively with the public often find their colleagues responding with scorn, and even punishing them in ways that affect their careers. My remarks stimulated Sagan to address the meeting eloquently for 15 minutes. He described how he, too, had taken flak from other scientists, but—he paused, as if to choose his words carefully—the disadvantages to him had for the most part not been serious. As he uttered these words, I sensed my fellow academy members holding their breath, waiting to hear whether Sagan would mention a stinging insult he had suffered at the hands of academy members themselves. In fact, he passed tactfully over the scandal that had unfolded a few years earlier, when he had become one of the few people in the academy's long history to have been provisionally elected to membership but then individually rejected in a special vote...
...Sagan's communication skills paradoxically provoked a backlash among many scientists, who refused to believe that he could simultaneously be a serious scientist and a charismatic TV personality.
Read the article for the full story.
I don't know how widespread this issue is. It's easy to think of great examples of scientists who were good communicators and not punished: Arthur Eddington, Einstein, Feynman, Francis Crick... but these are people who earned their Nobel prizes first, and then wrote for the public once their scientific reputations were unassailable.
Which is unfortunate: science communication should be cultivated at every level of your career, and not just saved for all the free time you have after your 'serious' research career is over.
Just maybe blogging can alleviate this problem. While blogging takes time and effort, it's something that can be done spontaneously, in contrast to writing a book or getting your own TV show. With blogs in the game, the possibility of being a good public communicator and a good researcher at the same time doesn't seem so inconceivable.
Read the feed: