Plenary 25.6. 9:00-10:30
Juha Kere, Professor of Molecular Genetics at Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet: “Unfounded fear or hype? Communicating risk and progress” [email protected]
Deborah Blum, Professor of Science Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist: “Chemophobia and other perils of journalism in a chemical world” [email protected]
Ulla Järvi, PhD, medicine and health journalist: “Small country in global science markets”, [email protected]
Producer: Teija Riikola
Moderator: Satu Lipponen
How do ethical codes of journalism work in connection with science?
Tuesday’s morning plenary opens the floor for discussion on some of the key questions pertaining to our common values in practicing the journalistic profession.
In a field where integrity is about more than technical accuracy and descriptions of scientific data, what are the values that should be present – and which ones missing- when we bring forward scientific discussions in the media?
Where is the money hiding when we talk about health and welfare? Where should these discussions take place?
Juha Kere: “Unfounded fear or hype: communicating risk and progress”
Many scientific results reveal links or associations between genes, behaviour or the environment on the one hand, and risks or possibilities for improvement on the other. For a scientist, a finding may be revolutionary or revealing because it might suggest a causative mechanism worth pursuing with further enquiry. But for the science communicator and for the general public, the way that such information is presented and interpreted raises the risk of oversimplification, leading to hype or unfounded fear. In very practical terms, professional skills become mixed with professional ethics. The art of communicating questions of relativity, grey areas, or slow change is challenging; when this happens, what is the impact on the newsworthiness of the stories?
Deborah Blum:”Chemophobia: And other perils of journalism in a chemical world”
When people hear the phrase “chemical-free” today, they know that it means free of toxic industrial materials. Yet the phrase itself is a reminder of two troubling trends in our understanding of our chemical worlds. Nothing, of course, is chemical-free (to that end, the Royal Chemical Society in Britain has offered a one-million pound prize to the person who can create a non-chemical object. Not all chemicals are toxic or even dangerous – many are actually life-sustaining. And both these dilemmas raise complicated questions for journalists. Have we fostered modern chemophobia by the way that we have been reporting on our chemical world, with our emphasis on bad news? Have we failed to contribute to a real understanding of our chemical world? And if we have failed on both those fronts, is there any evidence that by doing so – by encouraging misunderstanding of the actual risks – we might have made it harder for people to better assess the risks to their own health?
Deborah Blum [email protected]
Ulla Järvi: Small country in global science markets
Where is the real bias? Is it among scientists from small countries or among big scientific journals? Ulla Järvi, a medical journalist and PhD, will briefly describe what happened within the Finnish scientific community and international medical journals in 2011–2013, when Finnish researchers tried to publish their results on the connection between vaccinations for H1N1 swine flu and narcolepsy.