The UK Conference of Science Journalists 2018 will focus on new and emerging technologies and digital innovations in media and reporting. Our programme with confirmed speakers is now available below.
The goal is to help you future-proof your career by learning about the latest key media trends and picking up new digital tools and skills that are becoming essential to freelancing or thriving in the augmented newsroom.
Have a look at the programme below and don’t miss out on the heavily discounted early bird registration that is valid until end of August. If you haven’t registered already, come and join more than 100 science writers and editors who have already booked.
Algorithmic bias and accountability
Algorithms and machine learning software are influencing ever more decision making, from helping to identify criminal reoffenders to discovering potential new drugs. But they are designed by fallible humans, and trained and set to work on data that often contain hidden biases; as such, they might reinforce societal injustices and even systematically discriminate against specific people or populations.
To keep algorithms and their designers and users accountable, journalists need to engage with them and know what to look for when reporting. This session will examine the types, sources and causes of bias in algorithms, and explore how and why journalists can practice algorithmic accountability.
Speaker: Nicholas Diakopoulos, Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Northwestern University, US, where he is Director of the Computational Journalism Lab.
Digital innovation trends in media: hype versus reality
Journalists are increasingly having to adapt to a changing media landscape and technological disruptions to their traditional workflows. So, what new and emerging technologies should we be watching out for? And which are just fads we can safely ignore? This session will explore current trends in media and assess where the profession is headed in the next few years.
Speakers: Stuart Allan, Professor and Head of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University, UK; Robert McKenzie, Editor, BBC News Labs, UK; Sarah Jones, Head of the Birmingham School of Media at Birmingham City University, UK.
Artificial intelligence and science writing bots in newsrooms
Automation and smart software are increasingly being tested and rolled out to enhance and even replace newsroom jobs, from reporting, writing, and fact checking to social media management. Several mainstream media are now producing news stories entirely written by algorithms and the first bots that can write research papers and science news stories are on the horizon. What will this mean for science journalists? Will AI technology help us to automate boring tasks and speed up our work, or will it make many of us human journalists redundant? What is the current state of the art in AI news production and other media applications?
Moderator: Mićo Tatalović, chairman of ABSW, author of AI writing bots are about to revolutionise science journalism: we must shape how this is done
Speakers: Sam Han, PhD, Engineering Director, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, The Washington Post, US; Sabine Louët, founder of SciencePod, Ireland; Klemen Zupančič, PhD, CEO of SciNote, which recently launched the first AI manuscript writer for research papers.
Virtual and augmented reality applications in immersive science journalism
Increasingly, large media companies are setting up desks dedicated to augmented and virtual reality productions. We are seeing more and more immersive pieces that take the reader to the location in question, or augment the story with 3D pop-ups accessible via mobile phone. Many of these VR/AR stories are tackling science and environmental issues, taking readers anywhere from CERN and the Arctic to outer space. Is this just a fad, or a new feature of journalism that’s here to stay? What, if any, are the aspects of VR/AR technology that we can and should start including in our stories?
Moderator: Louis Jebb, Founder and Chief Executive, Immersivly Ltd.
Speakers: Joshua Hatch, 2017-18 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, Assistant Managing Editor for Data and Interactives at the Chronicle of Higher Education, former president of Online News Association, US; Anetta Jones, Virtual Reality Producer at The Guardian, UK; Griselda Serra, CEO of One Big Robot media development company, Spain; Bella Hurrell, Assistant Editor, BBC News Visual Journalism, UK.
Fact checking in science media production
We’re living at a time when fake news spreads faster than real news on social media, and facts are seemingly becoming relative or irrelevant. Science news based on individual research papers often proclaims one truth one week, and a conflicting one the next. This session will look into how misinformation about science gets into the public domain, the extent to which the research community and research publishing itself contributes to the problem, as well as practical steps journalists can take to mitigate or avoid contributing to the problem. It will also look at digital tools and possible AI solutions for automated fact checking.
Moderator: Martin Robbins, Head of Product, Factmata, UK.
Speakers: Mevan Babakar, Head of Automated Factchecking at FullFact; James Ball, former Guardian special projects editor, and author of Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World.
Breaking barriers and embracing innovation
This workshop will examine how and why science writers, editors and broadcasters can move beyond their usual working habits and interact more with developers, researchers and media professionals on engineering and innovation desks. How do we reach out to people with the digital skills we need to tell our stories in new and more effective ways on new platforms? How do we stay ahead of the curve, or at least ensure we don’t fall behind it?
The goal of this workshop is to connect science journalists with digital journalists and experts in specific sectors such as AI, AR/VR, immersive journalism and 360-degree video, interactive stories, sensor and drone journalism, to start a conversation and test ideas and pitches. It should empower you to think about your work in more innovative and experimental ways.
Moderators: Alok Jha, Public Engagement Fellow, Wellcome Trust, UK; Rina Tsubaki, Communications Manager, Strategic Partnerships, European Forest Institute - Barcelona Office, Spain.
TOOLS & SKILLS TRACK
Sensor and drone journalism: how, why and when to use them
A growing number of affordable sensors and drones are now available for collecting your own data and enhancing your reporting. Journalists can use sensors to uncover new information or simply illustrate a story with new or existing data, and can use drones to report from areas they couldn’t normally access. These tools have perhaps been used most prominently in environmental reporting but are open to all. This session will present some of the technologies available to reporters and explain why, when and how to use them in your reporting.
Speakers: Matthew Schroyer, founder of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists, US; John Mills, co-founder of Media Innovation Studio, The University of Central Lancashire's School of Journalism and Media, UK; Matt Waite, pioneer in the drone journalism industry, Professor of Practice at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, US.
Get your mojo on with mobile journalism
Mobile phones and various apps have become so good you can use them to report for TV and radio, as well as online content. This session will look at some basic principles of Mojo – or Mobile Journalism – when and how to use it, the best free apps for producing content, and what extra equipment or commercial apps you might need to make your mobile audio and video professional and broadcast-quality.
Speaker: Mark Egan, Mobile Journalism Trainer with Purple Bridge Media, UK; Bella Hurrell, Assistant Editor, BBC News Visual Journalism, UK.
Data journalism, visualization and interactives
Data can be key to finding or enriching science and technology stories. And while the principles of good data journalism are not new, the vast amounts of big data and numerous ways of presenting it can make it challenging to figure out how and when to use data visualization. This session will provide an overview of good and bad practice, with recent examples, and examine how to integrate data journalism into your newsroom flow without too much disruption.
Speakers: Caelainn Barr, Editor, Data projects, Guardian News & Media, UK; Joshua Hatch, 2017-18 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, Assistant Managing Editor for Data and Interactives at the Chronicle of Higher Education, former president of Online News Association, US; Bella Hurrell, Assistant Editor, BBC News Visual Journalism, UK.
Cooperation or conflict? Creative tension between writers and editors in crafting feature-length stories
A good editor is vital to ensuring that the feature you've written lives up to its full potential. But what constitutes good editing? Does a good editor completely overhaul a writer's work, or gently guide them to completion? How many rounds of editing is typical? How many can – and should – authors put up with? And what happens when the process breaks down? This session will discuss best practice in writing and editing, and examine the tricky, yet unavoidable, trade-offs between too much and too little input from editors. It will examine processes at different publications, and offer tips on how to maximise the gain and minimise the pain of long-form science writing.
Moderator: Aisling Irwin, freelancer specialising in science, environment and the developing world and ABSW board member, formerly interim editor at SciDev.Net and science correspondent at The Telegraph.
Speakers: Oliver Franklin-Wallis, former features editor for Wired, now a freelancer, UK; Chrissie Giles, editor, Mosaic, UK; Zeeya Merali, freelance physics journalist and author, and former reporter at New Scientist, UK, who now writes for Nature and Discover amongst other publications; Fred Pearce, freelance environment reporter who regularly writes for New Scientist, UK.
What does success look like for a freelancer?
You’re thinking of going or you've already gone freelance with your career – what next? Do you want to be famous? Do you want to be able to pay off a mortgage? Can you do both?
This session will explore tips on productivity and tools to help you do great work while reliably meeting deadlines. It will also go over what kinds of work are available to freelancers, and how to choose between them. And, we will discuss the freelance rates, contracts, and how you can optimise your income from a career in freelance science journalism.
Moderator: Andy Extance, freelance science writer who works for Chemistry World and Nature among others, ABSW board member, director of Exeter Empirical
Dalmeet Singh Chawla, award-nominated science journalist, published in and on Undark Magazine, Quanta Magazine, New York Magazine, Pacific Standard and Physics Today, among others.
Kate Ravilious, award-winning independent science journalist, published in magazines and newspapers and on websites including, New Scientist, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and BBC Focus magazine
Kat Arney, award-winning science writer, author, presenter, broadcaster, podcaster and public speaker,, and director of the communications consultancy First Create the Media.
Richard Hollingham,Director Boffin Media. Richard is an award-winning broadcaster, producer and science writer. A former senior producer on the Today programme, Richard produces programmes for BBC radio, writes for BBC Future and commentates on launches for the European Space Agency.
Kavli Foundation workshop on the future of science journalism in Europe
Register now with early bird rates available until the end of August 2018.
The conference team is still busy working on fine-tuning the programme. Keep an eye on our website and social media channels as we add more speakers and sessions.