La Federación Mundial de periodistas científicos (WFSJ) lanza el sitio web de su próxima conferencia: www.wcsj.org

La pandemia de COVID-19 probablemente interrumpió la mayoría de tus planes de viaje para 2020. Pero a medida que el año llega a su fin, la WFSJ comparte su optimismo para el futuro al lanzar el sitio web oficial de su próxima gran conferencia, que se llevará a cabo en Medellín, Colombia. ¡La WCSJ regresa al hemisferio sur!

Este evento tendrá lugar del 28 de marzo al 3 de abril de 2022, y esperamos sinceramente ver a viejos y nuevos amigos en esta emocionante sede.

“Cada Conferencia Mundial de Periodistas Científicos es un motivo de celebración”, dice Milica Momcilovic, presidenta de la WFSJ. “Pero esta promete ser especialmente alegre. Tenemos muchas ganas de conectarnos en línea y en persona con periodistas científicos de todo el mundo. ¡Nos vemos en Colombia 2022!”.

Por favor visita el sitio web, que crecerá regularmente a lo largo de 2021 con las contribuciones de nuestra comunidad y sus socios.

Web site launch marks WFSJ’s return to the southern hemisphere

The COVID-19 pandemic likely disrupted most of your travel plans for 2020. But as the year draws to a close, the WFSJ shares its optimism for the future by launching the official website for its next major conference:www.wcsj.org.

This event is to take place from March 28 to April 3, 2022 in Medellin, Colombia, and we sincerely look forward to seeing friends old and new at this exciting venue.

“Every World Conference of Science Journalists is a cause for celebration,” says Milica Momcilovic, president of the WFSJ. But this one promises to be especially joyous. We look forward to connecting online and in person with science journalists from around the world. See you in Colombia 2022! “.

Please visit the website, which will grow regularly throughout 2021 with contributions from our community and its partners.

WFSJ welcomes the Society of Environmental Journalists

The World Federation of Science Journalists is very pleased to welcome the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) as the organization’s 67th member association, the third to join our ranks in 2020. In a Board of Directors meeting held on December 15, members unanimously and quickly approved the SEJ application.

“This was an easy decision that we were delighted to make,” said WFSJ President Milica Momcilovic. “SEJ marks the gold standard for science journalism. It will be extremely satisfying to serve as a forum for their members to share ideas and insights with their colleagues from around the world.”

SEJ President Sadie Babits was also pleased.

“We are honored to join the World Federation of Science Journalists, which brings together tens of thousands of science journalists to advance, promote, and improve science journalism,” she said. “Covering our shared global environment is too big a task for any one organization, so we are excited to connect with our fellow environmental journalists across the planet to exchange ideas, stories, and resources. We look forward to working together to tell the world’s most important stories.” 

SEJ, which was originally incorporated in 1990, now has some 1,600 members, mostly based in the United States and Canada. All professional members must meet the organization’s strict qualifications, which prohibit public relations or lobbying (students are exempted). This focus on professional science journalists and faculty reflect SEJ’s stated mission to strengthen the quality, reach and viability of journalism across all media to advance public understanding of environmental issues.

The organization offers its own distinctive blend of educational programs and services, primarily for professional journalists, educators and students. These activities include annual and regional conferences, tours, meet-ups and training events; the Freedom of Information Task Force; SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment; story grants through the Fund for Environmental Journalism; members-only listservs for peer-to-peer support; a popular mentoring program; and, of course, a lively membership network of journalists and academics.

The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers: we should finally retire the term ‘fake news’

The year 2020 was a challenging one for science journalists across the world. They followed not only the spread of the novel coronavirus, but also an epidemic of half-truths, lies, conspiracy theories, and questionable statements made by world leaders.

Unintentional misinformation and intentional disinformation were often difficult to combat. Many of us spent time thinking about doing our jobs better and conveying scientific truth to a public that needed it more than ever.

The World Federation of Science Journalists organized a panel at the World Congress of Science & Factual Producers (WCSFJ), a must-attend event that took place online from December 8 to 10. Keynote speakers included Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, Luisa Neubauer, and more.

Andrada Fiscutean, a member of the WFSJ Board of Directors, and WFSJ President Milica Momcilovic, developed a panel to discuss the problem of misinformation and COVID-19. Entitled “Science Denial, Alternate Facts, and the Pandemic”, the event featured Pakinam Amer (Egypt), Anubha Bhonsle (India), and Thiago Medaglia (Brazil), and was moderated by Milica Momčilović (Serbia), the president of the World Federation of Science Journalists.

Hosted by Momcilovic, the panel address how COVID-19 narratives often exploited existing biases and divisions in our society, along with vulnerable groups who were the ones who suffered the most. They talked about what journalists can do to ethically inform an audience. And they also suggested retiring the term “fake news” because the information that’s neither accurate nor truthful is not news. 

Thiago Medaglia, the founder of Ambiental Media in Brazil, an initiative that transforms scientific content into compelling and innovative journalism, pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic showed, once again, that science denial can be a political strategy. Disinformation serves a political agenda — it starts at a high level, and then it is often spread forward by well-meaning members of the public. 

Thiago said that knowledge is not the only thing that can be produced — so is ignorance. During the pandemic, state leaders across the world often created doubt deliberately. This tactic is not new: it was also used by climate change deniers, as well as by those who supported the tobacco industry. Thiago quoted from an internal Tobacco Memo: “Doubt is our product.”

Anubha Bhonsle, an independent journalist and author from India who now runs the new media platform NewsWorthy, said that journalists should be transparent about the process of investigating and writing stories. They should mention their biases and the things they don’t know about the topics they cover. 

Anubha emphasized the fact that journalists shouldn’t hold on to mistakes just because it took a lot of time to make them. She also suggested that journalists operating on online platforms such as Instagram or Twitter could also use arts to create a closer relationship with their audience and balance hard news with more hopeful content.

Pakinam Amer, a science journalist and podcast producer from Egypt, currently a research affiliate at MIT, highlighted the fact false information can often be more pervasive and more “viral” than truth. She said that people tend to believe things that align with their beliefs and their political leanings.

Pakinam was part of an MIT team that created a “deepfake” video of Richard Nixon, ‘In the Event of the Moon Disaster,’ that was meant to show how technology can be used to create things that never happened. The team used artificial intelligence to stage a speech that former US President Richard Nixon never delivered. The statement was written in case the Apollo 11 mission had gone wrong, and the astronauts had died. Creating the Richard Nixon speech clip took hundreds of hours, but the cost of producing deepfake videos could drop in the future, as technology advances, Pakinam said.

At the end of the session, the panelists offered some practical solutions everyone could apply. One would be to check if the source is legitimate. Pakinam also suggested educating people into taking a deep breath before pressing share, analyzing information with a critical eye. She also pointed out that rather than tackling each rumor independently, it would be more beneficial to go to the roots of misinformation.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the panelists agreed, has often been distracting us from covering other big stories, such as climate change or social media platforms’ transparency issues. Journalists, the panelists said, should keep an eye on those stories too.