UK Conference of Science Journalists (UKCSJ)
The day was full of discussions and debates with three key aims:
- To discuss and debate contemporary issues in science journalism
- To encourage and provide skills for newcomers
- To promote professional development
Plenary: ‘Is science journalism special?’
The final plenary session of the day was particularly popular and the topic for debate was, “Is science journalism special?” Speakers included: Evan Davis, Today Programme, BBC Radio 4. Connie St Louis, President of the ABSW and Director MA Science Journalism. William Cullerne Bown, Chairman and Founder of Research Fortnight and Research Europe. Jay Rosen, Professor of Journalism at New York University. The session was chaired and produced by Alok Jha, Science Correspondent, the Guardian. The session aimed to answer the following:
Should the reporting of science, health, technology or the environment set itself apart from the rest of journalism and be allowed to bend or break the standard rules? Some think yes. Scientists should be allowed to check journalists’ articles before publication, some argue, because science is self-correcting and, therefore, categorically different to other subjects that journalists might cover. Others suggest that the discussion and analysis of science should be left to scientists themselves, with journalists merely playing a supporting role in helping to edit their text. Many disagree. Copy-checking, which is rare in most other fields of journalism, is evidence that science journalists and scientists have become too close. Journalists have become cheerleaders for science rather than applying the appropriate standards of scrutiny. Perhaps it comes down the the question of who are science journalists meant to serve? Science (and scientists) or their readers?