The morning plenary looks to the science blogs that are emerging everywhere.
The old image of a blogger as an amateur writer is vanishing, largely due to the rise of professional blog networks with their emphasis on standards. In no area is this more evident than in science writing, where bloggers are now respected as some of the best science communicators in the world.
What drove this change, who is responsible for changing the conversation, and where will blogging networks take us next? This plenary brings together some of the best-know blog editors and bloggers in the profession: Alok Jha, a science correspondent at the Guardian newspaper; Betsy Mason, science editor for Wired.com; Ed Yong is an award-winning science writer behind Not Exactly Rocket Science, hosted by National Geographic; and Bora Zivkovic, blogs editor at Scientific American.
The plenary is moderated by Deborah Blum, chemistry blogger for the Wired Science Blog network.
The science media ecosystem has never been as big, as good or as vibrant as it is today. Many young writers are joining the ranks of veterans each year – and they are good! Many of them have science backgrounds.
They write really well. And they are digital natives, effortlessly navigating today’s online world and using all the tools available to them. But some of them are going beyond being well adapted to the new media ecosystem – they are actively creating it!
The session is organised by Bora Zivkovic (middle in attached photo), blogs editor at the Scientific American, and as he manages a network of almost 60 top-notch science bloggers, he knows the subject.
The goal of personalised medicine research is to develop approaches and tools that help in predicting, preventing and treating diseases. Personalised medicine involves tailoring treatment according to the genetic profile and molecular signatures of each patient. Targeted drug treatments can ensure better drug efficacy and fewer side effects. The session will be hosted by professor Olli Kallioniemi.
The changing roles of science journalists: adapting the students compares journalists to species that need to adapt or become extinct when their niche is altered. Journalism is changing, and science journalists need to react to the economic forces of declining circulations, news room staff cuts and a growing number of freelancers competing for fewer assignments.
The three speakers and moderator of this panel are all well-respected academics who teach science journalism and who used to be or still are science journalists. They will share their vision on what kind of changing media landscape science journalism students venture into. And how university writing programs need to adapt to deliver graduates with the skills to brave this new landscape.
Before lunch there is also a laboratory for the interpretation of science. Slobodan Bubnjević from Serbia together with Marija Nikolić and Ljiljana Ilić create a “laboratory” in which one can observe these challenges of scientific journalism in vivo – especially on how to translate the language spoken by scientists to the public.
The University of Helsinki invites a small group to the Restaurant Viola at the Botanical Garden in Kaisaniemi for a lunch with the theme of functional food in a Scandinavian menu. Meet a top level scientist per dish in a select company!
Maria Ahlroth and Pelle Heikkilä will be on stage at 11:50 and 12:30 with a short play on type 2 diabetes and a major’s amazing metamorphosis. The short play Body in crisis, written by Teija Riikola, uses the methods of entertainment to draw attention to misconceptions linked with health, and to inform viewers of the latest medical information about type 2 diabetes.
From “the top ten foods to bust belly fat” to “asteroid hurtling towards earth”, many news stories about science or health contain factual errors. In different countries, health and science reporters have been cut from newsroom staff and the accuracy, balance, and completeness of reporting have suffered. Constraints on time mean that even specialised science journalists have fewer opportunities to check their work, and sometimes get it wrong.
Misuse them and abuse them: fighting for facts in science journalism session looks at three watchdog blogs trying to right the wrongs in science stories and will also outline how to set-up a watchdog website in your own country, as well as the potential role of accuracy, balance, and completeness in countries where health- or science- related claims often go unchallenged.
The session is produced by Frank Nuijens from the Netherlands and moderated by Julia Belluz, who has an award- winning blog Science-ish.
Governments often commission scientists to conduct research and to write reports with important social and policy ramifications. Scientists are often not encouraged to participate in press conferences about their findings and very often have little say over when and where (and even if) the findings are released. Sensitive reports are sometimes sat on for months or released at night through the internet with no press release to draw the attention of journalists.
This session with three panelists, one skype interview, one moderator and an onsite science writer will teach how to aquire and understand data, and how to find the story in the data, how to utilise software tools and social media applications, what modes of co-creation and collaboration there are between journalists & hackers across countries, and what personal lessons in life you have learned from successful projects and from mistakes in case studies.
And finally Alok Jha, Science correspondent of the Guardian, will lead us to the world of narrative in science writing. This session shows how to get readers to reach the end of long articles, and examines the pitfalls that lie in the way of people moving from writing short news stories to longer features. Do you ever feel like structuring long articles is a nightmarish hell that leaves you weeping alone under your desk? In this session, Ed Yong and Helen Pearson will take you by the hand and bring you out of the Features Dark Place.
“Just remember, you’re not alone, we’re all in this together,” says Alok.
How to get out of the routines? The afternoon plenary will discuss development and dialogue from different perspectives. What undermines our health? What is the role of science journalism in building up a better world? How do cultures engage in dialogue that benefits all? What is the role of ecology? The best experts from around the world will tackle these issues together with audience.
Ice breaker, icy comet or island with open-air dance?
Wednesday’s evening programme is a tricky three-body problem.
One option is an evening at the recently renovated Helsinki Old Observatory, which will host a reception by the European Space Agency and TEKES, the Finnish Funding agency for Technology and Innovation.
Helsinki Observatory was the most modern astronomical observatory when it was opened in 1834 and it has served as a model for classical observatories all over the world. The main theme of the evening will be Europe’s comet-chaser Rosetta, which will reach the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko next year. Rosetta’s lander will touche down at the comet’s nucleus, and the first parts to make contact with the surface are Made in Finland.
Another option is Lammassaari with a traditional open-air dance night: in the 50’s and 60’s open-air dancing used to be very popular – until disco dancing took over. After some decades open-air stages in woodlands experienced a rebirth, gaining a new audience and a resurgence of popularity. You don’t need to know how to dance; the teachers will lead you to take the basic steps and the live orchestra will keep up the mood.
Lammassaari is a special place: an island covered with woods and tiny cottages –– almost in the middle of the city. A Finnish summer night with food, drinks, tango has all that is needed for a memorable experience – just like in the an Aki Kaurismäki movie!
The third choice for Wednesday evening is icebreaker Sisu. In the wintertime the Baltic Sea along the Finnish coast is frozen for several months and icebreakers work hard to assist merchant vessels through the ice. Now, during the summer months, some of these huge and forceful icebreakers are stationed at the Katajanokka icebreaker quay, located only a stone’s thow from the conference venue.
Arctia Shipping, the state-owned company in charge of Finland’s icebreaker fleet, invites a limited group from WCSJ2013 to IB Sisu to hear about icebreaking. The Finnish Meteorological Institute will join in with unique information about their ice research done in the Baltic Sea and in the Arctic Ocean.
We come back to you again tomorrow with the Thursday’s programme.
Meanwhile we would like to point out that the limited-audience events during the WCSJ2013 are now filling in very fast. About half of those are already fully booked and some of the hotels are unfortunately no longer available.
The full programme and details about the social activities are available online at wcsj2013.org.
WCSJ2013 is organised by Finnish Association of Science Editors and Journalists and the World Federation of Science Journalists with substantial aid from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland and University of Helsinki.