Indigenous peoples have a different concept of knowledge than the modern world. Their traditional ways of thinking often clash with critical analysis and Cartesian scientific thinking.
While they face serious health problems, such as diabetes, obesity, and high suicide rates, science journalists trying to report on such issues often find themselves in a difficult balancing act between respect for traditional knowledge and the scientifically-validated facts.
Should the media treat Indigenous peoples differently than other social communities because of these competing epistemological frameworks? What are the specific sensitivities pertaining to Aboriginal peoples when it comes to explaining medical issues from the perspective of modern science?
In Canada, the main health-funding agency has drafted a set of specific rules directed to scientists who wish to carry out research in Aboriginal communities. These rules include obtaining approval from the indigenous people. Should the same set of rules apply to science journalists? If so, what might such rules look like? How might they be enforced? And could they undermine the integrity and independence of science journalism?
In this session reporters experienced with science and medical coverage of Indigenous peoples will debate these questions.
André Picard, Public Health reporter, Globe and Mail, Canada
André Picard is a health reporter and columnist at The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. He has received much acclaim for his writing, including being a six-time finalist for the National Newspaper Awards, Canada’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize ,and a two-time winner of the country’s top journalism prize, the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism. André is currently working on a large project examining successful health initiatives in Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. He is a former board member of the Canadian Science Writers Association.
Diran Onifade, Science journalist, Editor in Chief of AfricaSTI.com, Nigeria
I left the Nigerian Television Authority Network News last year after 23 years and founded www.AfricaSTI.com, a foremost Africa-based medium covering science, technology, and innovation on the continent. I am also working to establish a television network to cover development issues Africawide. In 2004, I founded the African Federation of Science Journalists, an affiliate of the World Federation of Science Journalists on whose board I also served as Vice President between 2007 and 2009.
Duncan McCue, CBC News reporter
Duncan McCue has been a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver for fifteen years. His award-winning news and current affairs pieces are featured on CBC’s flagship news show, The National.
He is also an adjunct professor at the UBC School of Journalism, and has taught journalism to Indigenous students at First Nations University and Capilano College.
McCue recently went “back-to-school” at Stanford University in California, as the recipient of a Knight Fellowship, where he created an online guide for journalists called Reporting in Indigenous Communities (www.riic.ca). Before becoming a journalist, Duncan studied English at the University of King’s College, then Law at UBC. He was called to the bar in British Columbia in 1998.
Duncan is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario. He lives with his wife and two children in Vancouver.
Moderator : David Dickson, Founding director and former editor, SciDev.Net
David Dickson trained in mathematics at the University of Cambridge before entering science journalism in 1973. He has worked for a number of scientific publications, including Science, New Scientist and Nature, where he was Washington correspondent in 1978-82, and news editor in 1993-2001. He left Nature to set up the website SciDev.Net , specialising in reporting on science and technology in developing countries, in 2001, acting as director until stepping down in 2011. He is the author of Alternative Technology (1973) and The New Politics of Science (1985). In 2012 he was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Association of British Science Writers.
Producer : Véronique Morin, Science journalist, Canada
Véronique Morin is a science journalist in broadcast and print magazines with over 20 years experience who believes strongly that Science should have an important place in daily newscasts.
She is currently working as science journalist for the science magazine program Le Code Chastenay on the public network Tele-Quebec, writing freelance magazine articles, as well as developing a documentary project.
Her documentary (idea and research) Time Bombs, about Canadian veterans who have participated in atomic bomb tests, received the awards of “Best documentary” from the New York International Independent Film and Video festival, “Best Documentary” from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and she was nominated for “Best Research” at the Gemeaux awards 2008.
Veronique Morin was president of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association (CSWA) from 2001-2005. She was the first president of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) from 2002-2004. She also serves as a judge on numerous awards recognising excellence in journalism.