WCSJ 2009 News

Results of Global MORI Survey on Attitudes in Evolution to be announced at World Conference of Science Journalists

12.30pm-1.30pm 30 June 2009
Central Hall, Westminster, World Congress of Science Journalists

23 June, 2009, London: Results from a global survey looking at attitudes to evolution around the world will be announced at a press conference at the World Congress of Science Journalists at 12.30 on 30 June 2009. The survey will include data from 10 countries and includes all regions of the world. Presenting the global results will be Fern Elsdon-Baker, Head of Darwin Now, the British Council’s contribution to the global celebrations around the anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the publication of Origin of the Species. Joining Fern on the panel to discuss the results will be recognised figures and experts in the fields of science and education.

Media enquiries:

For further information, please contact:
Tony Stephenson, Adam Michael, Benjamyn Tan
Tel: 020 7866 7864
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Attendance at the WCSJ is not required to attend press conference.

Notes to Editors

About Darwin Now
Darwin Now is the British Council’s contribution to the international celebration of the 200 year anniversary of Darwin’s birth (on the 12th February) and the 150 year anniversary of the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’ (on the 24th November).

Through this international programme of activity the British Council is seeking to engage new audiences, to make Darwin’s theory of evolution relevant to their lives, and to encourage involvement and debate. Darwin Now will look at the impact of Darwin’s ideas and their impact on contemporary biology, medicine and society. It comprises a year long programme of activity including outreach work and exhibitions in schools and further education colleges, a mobile exhibition, interactive website with and supporting workshops. The campaign is expected to run in up to 50 countries worldwide, including the regions of Europe, North Africa, East Asia, America and Latin America.

In the UK, highlights include the British Science Association, Festival of Science in September, and a youth summit involving 60 students from around the world, which will be held at the Natural History Museum in July. The programme culminates in the “Alexandrina Conference” a three day international conference on evolution and society, which will be held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt between 14th-16th November 2009. For more information, please go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/darwin

About the British Council
The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations overseas. Darwin is as an exemplar of the application of scientific methodology and international collaboration and Darwin Now provides an ideal platform for the British Council to highlight the UK as a respected partner for international cooperation in the field of science and ethics.

The British Council, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2009, works in more than 100 countries worldwide to build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people. During 2008, the British Council reached over 128 million people worldwide through a range of cultural programmes involving the arts, education, science, sport and governance. The British Council employs 7,900 staff, including 5,000 foreign nationals across a network of 200 offices in 109 countries and territories worldwide. For more information, please go to www.britishcouncil.org

WCSJ 2009 is knocking the door

The 6th World Conference of Science Journalists in 2009 (WCSJ2009) will be held at Central Hall, Westminster, London from 30 June to 2 July, 2009. It will bring established and aspiring reporters, writers and science communicators from around the world to debate, network, develop their professional skills and report on the latest advances in science and technology.

The main aims of the conference are raise the quality and impact of science journalism worldwide, share excellence in independent journalism, compare experiences with counterparts from developed and developing countries, promote professional development, encourage new partnerships and report on the latest advances in science and technology.

Many high profiles speakers like Nobel prize winner Rajendra Pachauri, Pulitzer Prize winner American science journalist Deborah Blum, environmental writer from The New York Times Andrew Revkin, Executive Editor of the UK’s Guardian Newspaper Ian Katz. British academicians and journalists, and journalists from Asia, Africa, the arab world and Latin America also join the conference.

There will be a range of exclusive workshops for journalists on Monday 29 June and the morning of Tuesday 30 June 2009. These are being designed in consultation with scientists, media trainers and journalists and will cover science journalism skills, new media tools and hot topics in science-providing opportunities to interview top international experts and gain access to new information sources.

The organizers hope that the conference will provide opportunities for science journalists to network with others from their region and other world, to share experiences and ideas, and create lasting professional relationships. There will be some five plenary sessions, 31 parallel sessions, 11 practical workshops and a bunch of post-conference trips to several meccas of european research.

Pallab Ghosh, Science Correspondent, BBC News & President, World Federation of Science Journalists said in his statement that Science journalists have a vital role to play in informing millions of people around the world about the latest advances and controversies in science and technology. He said, at WCSJ2009 we welcome journalists, editors and science communicators from both developed and emerging countries to enjoy our exciting programme of events, share experiences, develop new contacts and report great stories.


To know more about the 6th World Conference of Science Journalists, please visit www.wcsj2009.org.

-Mohammad Kawsar Uddin, From London, UK, June 27, 2009

How the media is creating a climate for change

IPCC chair R. K. Pachauri calls on journalists to maintain focus on the scientific rationale for action in their coverage of climate change.

The media has played a central role in spreading awareness on climate change over the past two years. I find this particularly satisfying because when I was elected vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1997, I highlighted the importance of outreach for disseminating IPCC reports as rich sources of scientific knowledge on climate change.

I felt that the IPCC, whose mission is to carry out assessments of all aspects of climate change, must try harder to reach out to policymakers and the public across the globe.

Robert Watson, who chaired the IPCC at the time, asked me to set up a task group on outreach and communications strategy. But this was essentially just a preliminary effort because, among other activities, the IPCC soon created its own website, which has been regularly updated ever since.

Around the same time, the IPCC started inviting the media to interact with its officials atevery major event or opportunity. This approach intensified in 2002, when I was elected chair of the IPCC, and shortly afterwards we recruited a full-time official to help with our outreach efforts.

Deep impact, When the first part of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, The Physical Science Basis, was released in Paris in February 2007, the large hall at the UNESCO headquarters, where the press briefing was held, was overflowing with media representatives. There were about 300 journalists present and around 50 TV cameras.

The findings of that report, and subsequent working-group reports released in Brussels and Bangkok, reached an impressive and widespread audience. In India, where coverage of climate change had previously been modest, several national newspapers began publishing detailed articles on the IPCC's scientific findings, and a small group of news writers carved out a prominent role for themselves by focusing on climate change. It was a similar story on Indian TV, with climate change suddenly becoming a subject of news.

Other countries had similar experiences, and the impact on public opinion and policymakers has been dramatic. The most important outcome of this outreach effort was the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the IPCC and environmental campaigner Al Gore, which was essentially the result of the widespread dissemination of knowledge on climate change by the scientific community on behalf of the IPCC.

A climate of intent, When the Fourth Assessment's final synthesis report was released in Valencia, Spain, in November 2007, the media had already developed an appetite for climate change. Several national and international newspapers featured the report's findings on their front pages, with some calling it the IPCC's strongest report ever.

The media coverage helped to create a climate of positive intent for action at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007. Even in the United States — a country that has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol — public opinion, particularly among the young, began turning strongly in favour of action to tackle climate change. And Barak Obama's engagement with climate change issues is likely to have been a factor in his being elected president.

It is therefore fair to say that the media has helped turn public opinion in favour of action on climate change. And this attitude has seeped into the negotiations that began with the 2007 Bali meeting and continued in Poznan, Poland, late last year.

The road to Copenhagen, here is also every reason to believe that the way the media engages with this issue over the next six months will have a major impact on the outcome of the UNFCCC talks in Copenhagen later this year, when international climate negotiators will establish a new global climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

What provides hope, and is particularly refreshing about the media's actions so far, is the fact that many journalists have shown remarkable scholarship and a penchant for in-depth analysis in their coverage, providing objective and unbiased analyses of the IPCC's findings.

But one concern is that the current logjam in negotiations is leading some sections of the media to focus on the debate's political aspects, concentrating on different countries' positions. This comes at the cost of coverage on the scientific rationale for action, which must remain the driver for negotiations.

The road to Copenhagen must be based on awareness of the scientific basis for climate change — and this requires the media to remain actively, yet responsibly, engaged.

As reporters from across the world gather in London for the 6th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ), R. K. Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reflects on how the media has helped raise awareness on climate change over the past two years. R. K. Pachauri is chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and director-general of The Energy and Resources Institute in India]

R. K. Pachauri, 24 June 2009

This story was originally published by SciDev.net.

How the media is creating a climate for change