It is almost time for WCSJ 2009

An old saying states that birds of a feather flock together, but the science journalists’ fauna, at least the one I’m more familiar with, tends to be made up of individualists rather than of team workers (with the exception of a few groups, such as the one in the Science Divulgation General Direction, at the UNAM). But aside from those few bunches, the rest of us operate, tsk tsk, from quite personal trenches.

Given the fact that we envision future problems for science writers (gulp), there’s been long and sometimes even deep thoughts in different forums about the urgent need of opening our minds to collaboration, of finding strength in numbers, of grasping the power of the mass or, as they say nowadays, of crowdsourcing.

That’s why I’m as happy as a worm in an apple because soon I’ll be on a mission to London. Starting next monday, some 700 journalists from all over the world will gather in the british capital to argue long and loud (and hopefully bright) about the nuances of our hardy craft.

Part of the charm comes from the fact that the trip will be supported by european foundations that offered many travel scholarships so that people from developing countries such as myself could participate in the Sixth World Conference of Science Journalists.

The program is bursting with everything but the kitchen sink, and even breakfasts and meals will have dialogue and discussion. 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. It will be, yes, an odyssey filled with activities.

The speakers list is filled with important names, starting with Nobel prize winner Rajendra Pachauriand also includes some of the great names from science journalism, such as the American Deborah Blum, winner of the Pulitzer prize, and Andrew Revkin, environmental writer from The New York Times(I’ll happily add here british author Ben Goldacre, from Bad Science). We’ll have of course many british academicians but also journalists from Asia, Africa, the arab world and Latin America.

Aside from listening to the planet’s main experts in the journalistic coverage of science, this gathering will give us the opportunity to see each other face to face, instead of just through email or printed references.

I do hope to morph into an able sponge so that, getting rid of my ancient age cowwebs, I mercilessly squeeze the most of this opportunity, which will also give me a chance to show my fellow journalists some of the work we do here. I’ll keep you informed about my adventures.

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