Tag Archives: Qatar

Risk and bioethics at WCSJ2011 in Doha (from a European perspective)

The following article, by Swim board member Daniela Ovadia, has just come out in the newsletter of EUSJA.

European science journalism was represented at WCSJ 2011 in Doha also by two panelists from Italy: Fabio Turone, who produced a panel on the communication of risk, and myself, in charge of a session on bioethics.

Moderated by Wilson Da Silva, editor in chief of Cosmos, the most widely read science popularisation magazine in Australia, the panel on risk offered three very diverse points of view on the issue.

Nigeria’s Akin Jimoh, who is the anglophone coordinator for the SjCOOP mentoring program of the World Federation of Science Journalists, discussed about the many difficulties a reporter has to overcome when trying to involve the population of African countries in the debate on risk, difficulties summarised in the picture of two motorbike riders wearing ludicrous – but not uncommon – substitutes for the helmets mandated by the law.

The lively and entertaining contribution by former TV reporter David Ropeik, book author and instructor at Harvard, focused on the elements that contribute to make objective hazards more or less scary, which should be known and used with caution by media professionals: from trust to familiarity, from choice to uncertainty through the dualism between risk and benefit, natural and man-made and between catastrophic and chronic, and more. His extensive research on the perception of risk was recently summarised in the book “How Risky Is It, Really?: Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts”.

Finally Fabio Turone analysed the available medical litterature on the quality of health and specifically risk reporting, to stress the importance of providing lifelong training for science journalists by journalists, specifically to practice and reinforce a critical approach. He presented the existing attempts at establishing a stronger and more effective alliance among scientific institutions, health policy makers and the media professionals in which the latter are considered “professional equals”.

From left: David Ropeik, Fabio Turone, Akin Jimoh and the moderator Wilson Da Silva.

Bioethics is more and more important in health reporting. It’s harder and harder for a science journalist to separate opinion from scientific evidence in topics such as end of life decisions or the  assessment of consciousness and coma. The panel in Doha was composed by journalists from the US – Joe Palca, science correspondent from NPR, and Jon Cohen, correspondent with Science who acted as moderator – the Canadian bioethicist Eric Racine, from Mc Gill University in Montréal, and myself. Racine illustrated his research on media reporting in cases that have a strong bioethical angle, especially with regards with neurology and neuroscience. He discussed the media coverage of the Terry Schiavo case in American and British newspapers through the analysis of the language used to describe her medical history, the most common mistakes in reporting and the misunderstanding of the experts’ comments.

Joe Palca discussed the hypes and hopes of stem cell research in neurological diseases and raised the question of how to report such an important issue. Finally I summarized two important cases involving end-of-life decisions that were debated in Italy for many years: the case of Piergiorgio Welby (an ASL patient who asked to withdraw assisted ventilation) and the case of Eluana Englaro (a coma patient with many similarietis with the Schiavo’s story). The speech benefited from the work by Gianna Milano, an Italian colleague who followed both cases for many years but could not attend the Doha conference.

From left: Daniela Ovadia, Eric Racine, Jon Cohen and Joe Palca.

The final discussion on the role of science journalism in ethical and scientific controversies sparked a debate about the difference between informing and teaching. The majority declared that the role of journalists is to inform and not to teach nor to judge the experts’ or the families’ position. An interesting part of the discussion involved colleagues from Islamic countries, where the bioethics debate is still in its infancy but is an emerging issue.


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Ancora pochi giorni per andare a Doha con le borse dell’Ordine

Mancano pochi giorni alla scadenza del bando per le borse da 800 euro che l’Ordine dei Giornalisti della Lombardia ha messo a disposizione degli iscritti che vogliono partecipare al Congresso mondiale dei giornalisti scientifici che si terrà a Doha, in Qatar, alla fine di giugno.

Il bando dell’Ordine dei Giornalisti è consultabile qui: la somma di 800 euro è sufficiente a coprire la quasi totalità dei costi (per la registrazione al congresso gli iscritti a Swim hanno diritto alla quota scontata), dal momento che gli organizzatori hanno un’ottima convenzione con un albergo cinque stelle (50 dollari, circa 40 euro, a notte per la singola: il doppio per la doppia) e con le Qatar Airlines (15-25% di sconto).
Per quanto riguarda il volo aereo, vi consigliamo comunque di fare una valutazione comparata dei costi, per esempio su skyscanner.it, perché si trovano biglietti andata e ritorno a meno di 500 euro.

Infine, se avete bisogno di ulteriori motivi per venire, ecco un po’ di suggerimenti turistici da Repubblica Viaggi (“Doha tra archistar e tradizione”).

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Ecco il bando dell’OdG lombardo per Doha

Ecco i dettagli del bando per le borse istituite dall’Ordine dei Giornalisti della Lombardia, di cui avevamo dato un’anticipazione nei giorni scorsi: Continue reading

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A Doha, con le borse dell’Ordine della Lombardia

Cinque borse di studio da 800 euro ciascuna: ecco come l’Ordine dei Giornalisti della Lombardia ha accolto la richiesta della nostra associazione di favorire la partecipazione italiana al Congresso Mondiale dei giornalisti scientifici di Doha, in Qatar (27-30 giugno 2011).

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Nadia El-Awady: «Join us in Doha»

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

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WCSJ2011 Moves to Doha, Qatar June 27 to 29, 2011

Here is the official statement by our friend Nadia El-Awady about the decision of moving the World Conference of Science Journalists from Cairo to Doha, published on the website of the WFSJ

Cairo has been witness to very exciting times in the past few weeks and Egypt has now started the inspiring but demanding process of birthing a new democracy.

This will take time and a lot of vigilance and hard work on the part of the Egyptian people.

Doha, Qatar

The organizers of the World Conference of Science Journalists 2011 had to come to the very difficult decision of relocating the conference. We realize that many science journalists were looking forward to visiting a new and exciting Cairo and that so many were hoping to visit Tahrir Square that was just down the road from our conference venue. There were too many uncertainties, unfortunately, and we felt our priority needed to be providing a stable and safe environment to hold a successful conference.

The boards of the Arab Science Journalists Association, the National Association of Science Writers (US), the World Federation of Science Journalists and the WCSJ2011 steering committee met internally and with each other to discuss the situation.

The situation was assessed and discussions revolved around the best way to preserve the conference and to keep it in the Arab world. While we went through these discussions, we received many offers of support. One of them came as an offer from the Qatar Foundation who invited us to move the conference to Doha while honoring the Egyptian spirit of the WCSJ2011. We looked at all our options and we came to the unanimous decision to accept the kind invitation by the Qatar Foundation to move the conference to Doha, Qatar.

So it is my pleasure to announce that the WCSJ2011 will be held on its same dates of June 27 to 29, 2011 in Doha, Qatar with generous support from the WCSJ2011 Leading Sponsor, the Qatar Foundation.

The conference program will remain the same although with some changes to suit the exciting revolutionary times in the Arab world, how they have been affected by social media and what kinds of impacts we expect to see on science and science journalism.

Our leading sponsor in Doha, the Qatar Foundation, will be pulling together an exciting list of fieldtrips on June 30 so conference participants can explore what is happening in terms of research and development in this rapidly growing country.

We sincerely appreciate your patience with us over the past few weeks while our Egyptian staff were busy liberating their country. We have received so many encouraging words of support from science journalists all over the world and those words were deeply appreciated.

We are now working on updating the information on the conference website so that conference participants can proceed with their registrations and reservations. We hope you will have all the information you need to make your plans within the next few days.

We look forward to seeing you all very soon in Doha!

Best Regards,

Nadia El-Awady
Co-Director WCSJ2011
And an Egyptian Revolutionary!

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