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Science Journalism: RELATE briefing

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RELATE: Research Labs for Training Journalists. 80 journalism students are sent on one-week study tours to EU-funded research labs, where they shadow and interview researchers. Subjects cover everything from climate change modelling to cultural heritage, aeronautics, photonics, and vaccine research for TB and cancer.

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Science Journalism: RELATE briefing

  1. 1. Study tour briefing Howard Hudson, Editor European Journalism Centre
  2. 2. A learning curve for everyone <ul><li>I am new to science journalism in 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>But I have a passion for media development </li></ul><ul><li>RELATE aims to help you develop your skills in science writing </li></ul><ul><li>...While helping researchers deal with the media (share information, interview skills, etc.) </li></ul>Image: Ruby Blossom Flickr)
  3. 3. Why are we here? <ul><li>People can't keep up with the pace of technological change... </li></ul><ul><li>The general public is either afraid or apathetic about hi-tech research because they don't understand it. </li></ul><ul><li>Bombarded by Hollywood films and sensationalist articles, people don't know what to believe. </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists are key to explaining science – literally to mediate </li></ul>
  4. 4. Reporters: Cheerleaders or watchdogs? <ul><li>“ Science and journalism are not alien cultures... They are built on the same foundation...that conclusions require evidence; that the evidence should be open to everyone; and that everything is subject to question... And whether it's directed towards an experiment or a breaking news story, each can appreciate the other's critical eye.” </li></ul><ul><li>Nature Magazine , 30 June 2009 </li></ul>Image: US Geological Survey (Flickr)
  5. 5. So what can we do? <ul><li>Interview and shadow researchers while they work: discover science from the inside </li></ul><ul><li>Present the facts as clearly as possible: help make sense of science </li></ul><ul><li>Involve the reader by focusing on the individual stories: things they can relate to... </li></ul><ul><li>The sick people who benefit: e.g. over 7.4 million people die each year from cancer worldwide </li></ul><ul><li>Or by showing the 'human side' of the scientists </li></ul>
  6. 6. What are we NOT here to do? <ul><li>Act as public relations officers for science: we're not here to write press releases. </li></ul><ul><li>Why? For our own CREDIBILITY </li></ul><ul><li>Because people dismiss one-sided stories and editors won't buy one-sided accounts. </li></ul>
  7. 7. But also remember... <ul><li>We are not here as undercover journalists </li></ul><ul><li>Or to write sensationalist articles </li></ul><ul><li>Please note which briefings are off-the-record </li></ul><ul><li>Respect the lab rules and journalism ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Learn best practice and worst practice... </li></ul>
  8. 8. See www.badscience.net
  9. 9. Ultimately, we're here to... <ul><li>Write engaging, balanced and accurate accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Capture the cutting-edge in our writing </li></ul><ul><li>Explore all sides of the issue: the likely benefits as well as the social impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Explore the personal angle: Who benefits? How do the researchers work? What drives them? </li></ul><ul><li>Get people talking and debating, through intellectual curiosity or individual empathy </li></ul>
  10. 10. Thank you for listening! <ul><li>Howard Hudson, EJC Editor: </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>

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