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Tag Archives: science
We are pleased to circulate this announcement by the Finnish colleague Eeva Pitkälä, Conference Director of the 8th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) that will take place in Helsinki from June 24 to 28, 2013.
The first details of WCSJ2013 have now been revealed at a press conference in the AAAS Annual meeting.
The next important WCSJ 2013 dates are Call for session proposals, open on March 1, 2012, exhibition details available by June 2012 and the early registration, that begins September 10, 2012.
WCSJ 2013 takes place right after the Midsummer festivities and thus it is a unique time of the year in Helsinki when the summer nights are nearly as bright as the days. The venue of the conference is the central campus of the University of Helsinki.
In Helsinki, you will meet hundreds of members of WFSJ, aspiring future science journalists, top-level scientists and colleagues from different countries.
- What will make WCSJ2013, Helsinki, a must-attend is its emphasis on creativity and networking. Times certainly are hard for science journalists in Finland and all over the world. Thus, the core of the conference is that our professional questions must be addressed in depth, says Ms. Lipponen, Chair of the Organising Committee and President of the Finnish Association of Science Editors and Journalists, FASEJ.
- In WCSJ2013, having fun is a crucial part of the programme. Achieving good intellectual results by having fun is not far-fetched. According to the International Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, Finland has an excellent reputation in education, – Learning from colleagues is the basic idea behind the Science Journalism COOPeration programmes, a unique effort to train science journalists in developing countries. That is also a good example for us in Helsinki 2013, points Mr. Vesa Niinikangas, the President of WFSJ and General secretary of FASEJ.
Having met many of you in London and Doha and witnessed the great effort and passion you all put into your work, I would love to see you in Helsinki in 2013
Conference Director WCSJ 2013, Helsinki, 24 – 28, June 2013
8th World Conference of Science Journalists
Here you can download the pdf of the invitation leaflet.
«Know thyself, science writer»: in a time of crisis that is bringing deep changes in the media landscape and according to many is putting science journalism “under threat”, the association “Science Writers in Italy” just launched an online survey asking science journalists from all over the world – and especially from Europe – to dedicate a few minutes of their busy time to help sketch the profession as they live it. Continue reading
(Too good not to share: Script adapted from an article written by Bruce Handy (@henryfingjames) & Joel Potischman that appeared in SPY Magazine (January, 1990)
The following article by Swimmer Nicola Nosengo has just come out in the newsletter of EUSJA.
According to “Nature”, the trial that began in the Italian city of L’Aquila on September 20 will be a “watershed case”, one that will force seismologists worldwide to rethink the way they do their job, and the way science is used by policy makers. In the trial, six Italian scientists and one government official who assessed the seismic risk in the Italian region of Abruzzo before the earthquake of April 2009 are indicted for manslaughter. But the case, which will go on for a year at least, is also a test for scientific journalism, and a tough one for sure.
Getting the facts right (the first duty of a journalist) is not easy, to begin with. It is a messy story, made even more complicate by the typical Italian mix of bad politics and riddled bureaucracy. Not surprisingly, many newspapers have chosen the easy way out, describing a “trial against science” where seismologists are oddly accused of “failing to predict an earthquake”.
The accusation is surely questionable, but is actually very different. It revolves around a meeting of the Major Risks Committee, a group of consultants to the Italian Civil Protection, held in L’Aquila on March 31, 2009, one week before the devastating earthquake which hit the city on April 6, killing 309 people. The population in L’Aquila was very alarmed at the time, after four months of continuous seismic activity, and the six scientists were asked to assess the probability of a major shock and its possible impact. The outcome of a meeting was a press conference where a Civil Protection official, who had chaired the meeting, said more or less that the seismic activity in L’Aquila was “certainly normal” and posed “no danger”, adding that “the scientific community continues to assure me that, to the contrary, it’s a favorable situation because of the continuous discharge of energy”.
Now comes the messiest part of the story. The public prosecutor of L’Aquila contends that some of the victims (32 of them) were so afraid at the time that they were about to leave their homes, or at least sleep in their cars to reduce the danger, but changed their mind after hearing that press conference. The prosecutor does not accuse the scientists of a wrong prediction. But he notes that those statements about the “discharge of energy” have been criticized by most seismologists as scientifically unfounded (matter of fact, they do not appear in the minutes of the meeting). The accusation, in other words, is to have misinformed the public with an exceedingly reassuring (and unscientific) message, thus leading some people to abandon precautions which may have saved their life.
The long paragraph above is enough to show some of the difficulties this story poses for science journalists. It takes many words to explain it, even on a basic level. When covering a science story, we are used to sacrifice most of the facts and concentrate on the few fundamental ones, skipping the details. But here the details are essential (as it usually happens in criminal trials,) and leaving even one element out of the story (the meeting, the press conference, the scientific consensus on seismic swarms, what the victims did and what their relatives say they were going to do, the timing of it all) results in distorting it. Also, this story forces the reporter to combine and master very different languages. On one side there is seismology (a scientific discipline where uncertainty reigns), on the other there is criminal law. Even when the two disciplines use the same words, they are often meaning very different things.
Not surprisingly, some scientific media have chosen a partisan approach, acknowledging that the accusation is less absurd than it may seem (in other words, that it is not about earthquake prediction) but taking side with the scientists: it is the case of New Scientist, for example, which published a long commentary by Thomas Jordan, a highly respected American seismologist who will testify in favour of the defendants. Others, notably Nature, have taken a more nuanced position, reporting extensively on the view from L’Aquila, particularly from the victims’ relatives, and stressing that scientists have lessons to learn from the case.
Strangely enough, the case has raised much more interest abroad than in Italy, where national media have hitherto paid little attention to it. That is a shame, mostly because no one is questioning the role played by those very media in the case, and what media professionals, in Italy as elsewhere, could learn from it. The media are not at the bar (and rightly so). But it was the media that conveyed the messages, right or wrong, which are now at the center of the trial. TV stations edited and broadcasted those reassuring statements. Local papers reported about the press conference. Many of them were giving space and resonance to the so-called “predictions” by Gioacchino Giuliani (an amateur seismologist who alarmed the population by announcing a strong earthquake in the region, though in a different area), which played a big part in complicating the work of the committee.
At the trial, one of the scientists’ lawyers has explicitly accused the mass media of distorting the scientific message of the meeting, implying they, and not the scientists, are responsible for what happened. She is largely wrong. The media have their own logic, and it is the work of public officials and risk communication experts to learn how to work with them in order to get the right message to the population. Still it would be a waste if journalism, in Italy as elsewhere, did not use this chance to reflect on its role in risk communication.
From the website of the World Federation of Science Journalists:
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters offers scholarships to cover 2012 awards in OsloJune 26, 2011 posted in Competitions
There’s a door opening wide into astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience, and science journalists can apply for front-row seats to cover a landmark event honouring researchers in these fields.
The door is in Oslo, Norway, but it’s open for applications from science reporters anywhere – from Chile to China and all points in between.
The $1 million Kavli Prize ceremony is scheduled for Oslo, Sept. 3–6, 2012. The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and The Norwegian Ministry of Research and Education are offering up to seven journalists transportation from their home countries, a week’s accommodation, and lectures by some of the world’s best popularizers of science.
They will also attend the Kavli Prize Science Forum with the 2012 topic being “science and global health.”
The World Federation of Science Journalists will choose the journalists on behalf of by the Norwegian ministry and academy and winners will be announced during the 2012 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Feb. 16–20, in Vancouver, Canada.
Scientists in the running for the $1 million Kavli prizes for 2012 will be chosen in May or June of next year by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and will be presented by King Harald of Norway in September.
The Kavli Prize is a partnership between The Kavli Foundation, The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The scholarships are funded by the Norwegian ministry and academy.
The Kavli Foundation is the brainchild of Norwegian-born Fred Kavli, a physicist and entrepreneur who came to the United States after the Second World War and invented flight control sensors for aircraft, devices which operate in most commercial and military aircraft today.
In a 2007 interview with actor Alan Alda on the foundation website http://www.kavlifoundation.org/fred-kavli, Kavli said that after he sold his business in 2000 he wanted to “do something of long-range benefit to human beings,” and do it in his chosen field of science, “especially physics.” (Alda, along with Åse Kleveland, former Norwegian culture minister, hosted the 2010 Kavli Awards ceremony.) For their founder, the Kavli Awards – in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience – were defined to encompass everything “from the biggest, to the smallest, to the most complex” knowledge being pursued by researchers today.
Applications should be emailed to WFSJ firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 15, 2012. An application package should include the journalist’s CV and co-ordinates, identification pages from his or her passport, three articles or audio/video files on astrophysics, nanoscience or neuroscience (in the original language), and a one-page essay in English on why the applicant should win this competition.
We want to spread as much as possible this letter from Nadia El-Awady, President of the World Federation of Science Journalists, so we ask you to diffuse it to any professional who you think might be interested in attending the World Conference of Science Journalists taking place in Doha (Qatar) next June. Continue reading
We are featured on the website of the World Federation of Science Journalists (thanks, folks!). Continue reading
In addition to the usual role as a guide and a “catalyzer” for professionals often working alone, the Association SWIM-SWITY plans to conduct research on science and science writing, in partnership with colleagues and academic institutions in Italy and abroad
Turin (ESOF 2010) – A new Association of Science Writers was launched in the beginning of 2010 in Milan with the goal of becoming a reference for all professionals interested in promoting cooperation and debate within the professional community and with the scientific community – nationally and internationally – and in supporting multidisciplinary research on all aspects of science and science writing.
The association – called “Science Writers in Milan – in Italy”, SWIM-SWITY in short – is currently composed mostly of science reporters, editors, popularizers and writers in general, but is open to all the professionals involved in the communication of science and about science with a critical approach, particularly through the use of all new media.
Among the first accomplishments of SWIM-SWITY are science writing and health writing courses on the basic tools for the critical appraisal of scientific literature, organised on behalf of the Professional Order of Journalists of Lombardy.
The board of SWIM-SWITY – currently composed by science writers Daniela Ovadia, Guido Romeo (Treasurer) and Fabio Turone (President) – is in the process of applying to both EUSJA and WFSJ for affiliation, and is eager to cooperate with all individuals and organizations sharing the same goals, in Italy and all over the world.
Friday, July 2nd, 2010