Science journalism is suffering from newsroom downsizing and a global recession. “Independent” news media organizations are copy-pasting material supplied by universities and a growing number of freelance science reporters are doubling as freelance writers for research organizations, NGOs, government departments, and companies. As the line between journalism and PR blurs, how does the freelancer preserve her independence?
- Can readers trust climate change stories when a reporter also earns income from writing for an organization or NGO that does climate research?
- Should journalists stop writing for PR magazines, brochures, or funding proposals?
- Should journalists disclose all potential conflicts of interest (such as free travel)?
- Should governments, universities and researchers stop financing journalists and/or media organizations?
- Should media reject sponsored science content?
- Could a new code of ethics help, perhaps, in making the slope less slippery?
This session at the 8th World Conference on Science Journalism will feature an animated debate in which the audience itself will be seated in our version of the boisterous British House of Commons (HEAR HEAR!).
Sparked by the results of a new survey (all should participate!), participants will square off in a heated discussion. What are the trends, what (if anything) could we do to counter them?
Peter Vermij, now a Dutch science communications consultant for corporate, NGO and research organization clients. Previously Peter was an award-winning science reporter with 25 years of experience in newspapers, television and science journals including Nature Biotechnology and Nature Medicine.
Hans van Maanen, an award-winning freelance science writer and book author in the Netherlands. He wrote some twenty books on games, statistics and popular science. He specializes in statistics and authored the ‘Understanding statistics’ chapter of the WFSJ Online Course in Science Journalism.
Anne Sasso (bio), a Vermont-based accomplished freelance journalist, equally at home in leading outdoor and science magazines as in the boardrooms of corporate clients. She contributed to The Science Writers’ Handbook: Everything you Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age’. Today, she writes almost exclusively for corporate clients.
Kai Kupferschmidt, a freelance science journalist based in Berlin. He studied molecular biomedicine at the University of Bonn and journalism at the Berlin Journalism School. He works as a contributing correspondent for ‘Science’ magazine and edits a weekly science page at German newspaper ‘Der Tagesspiegel’.
Heikki Kuutti, a senior researcher in Journalism at the Department of Communication of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. His research includes investigative reporting and law and ethics in journalism. Before moving into research, Kuutti worked at regional Finnish newspapers. In between, he served as Head of Information at the Finnish Air Force.