WCSJ 2009 Session Reviews

The audacity of hope!

 Originally Added: 2009-07-03 14:18

Of course the famous title “Audacity of Hope” belongs to U.S. president Barack Obama, whose election was the biggest story of last year. But another story also scored very high on news editors' radars: the Large Hadron Collider story, LHC, which makes some heavy lifters of news and information very hopeful and optimistic about the future science journalism.

 

Research when money is not an issue

Originally published: 2009-07-02 11:22

Imagine if you were asked to develop an advanced world-class research and education system in an area of the world that previously didn’t have much of either. It might seem one of the trickiest things in the world. But there is one more issue that totally flips it around. What if money was not an issue – at all – during this task?

This is the case with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

Session 5 - The Challenges of Regional Reporting

Tim Radford, chairman, greeted the audience and introduced himself and the speakers.

At the outset he stressed that in Britain everything is written according to the audience – they dictate their expectations.

Nadia El-Awady, Program Manager & Founder, WFSJ & Arab Science Journalists Association, Egypt

She outlined specific case – how the media in Egypt covered the swine flu (May, 2009). This case revealed weaknesses of the Egyptian media. Egypt has a special background which creates a certain state of mind and leads to chaos. It can be illustrated by following steps:

  • 23 April – WHO began reporting cases of N1H1.
  • 28 April – Egyptian parliament called for slaughter of the pigs.
  • 29 April – Slaughter started by presidential decree.

Background:

  1. Egypt is the only Islamic country that has a significant pig population: 100 000 – 300 000 heads. Consumption of pork is prohibited by Islam but there is a large tourism industry and 10 % of population is Christian. Majority of the pigs belong to the Christian minority.
     
  2. Egyptian government received much criticism in the past few years – there was huge rockslide which killed 100 people, fires which burned parliamentary house, ferry sinking which killed hundreds of people. This created a lot of mistrust to the government.
     
  3. Plans to remove pigs were here since 2006 already because pigs are not bred on farms but live with people in their homes in slums. People who have
    the pigs are garbage collectors who bring the garbage to pigs to eat. This creates sanitary problems. The plans though were never carried out.
     
  4. There exists tension between the Christians and the Muslims in the past few years.
     
  5. There are concerns over corruption in every section of the society.
     
  6. As a result Egyptian government involved itself into the drastic response to the imminent threat – they felt the pig flu virus would mutate in the pig and become dangerous.

Session 23 – Genetics in the news

Chairman Philipe Pajot, science journalist from French Association of Science Journalists

Outlined the topics of this session, which were the similarities and differences in which genetics is reported mainly in French speaking newspapers, and then introduced the speakers. 

Francois Heindryckx, who had written many books on media in Europe, explained that he usually attends conferences where the peers are to present his research. Researcher in general has to defend himself because colleagues attack him and his methods or the things that he forgotten or the theoretic framework he got wrong. This is different now – he is talking to journalists about study made about journalists. This study was made in collaboration with the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where colleagues were given grant from Genome BC to find out how journalists cover genetic research and genomics. Schools in Quebec and Lille in France also investigated and research was transposed to Belgium as well.

The study turns to be threefold:

   1. Content analysis how the research is reported on four markets
   2. Interviews with science journalists in general
   3. Interviews with scientists themselves (now in process)