5th Kavli Symposium

The  5th Kavli Symposium on Science Journalism that will be held in Washington DC, on February 2019 (18-20 February) is produced by the WFSJ in partnership with the Kavli Foundation and traditionally takes place every year right after the AAAS meeting.

The 5th Kavli Symposium will address Science Journalism and Politics. It will explore the intricate relationships between science journalism and government decision-making – ranging from health and environmental issues to investment in basic science. It will examine if and how science journalism serves to inform decision-making processes and public opinion and whether it can more effectively be a check on how these policies are formulated. We will also focus on the relationship between science news and politics, with special attention to the connections between the science desk and the political desk in the newsroom.

This is a nonpartisan and non-political event and all sessions will be designed with the view of stimulating thinking to deliver cutting-edge ideas for the benefit of the field as a whole.

The Symposium’s steering committee:

  • Deborah Blum, Director Knight Science Journalism program, MIT
  • Mariette DiChristina, Editor-in-Chief, Scientific American
  • Robert Lee Hotz, Science Writer, Wall Street Journal
  • Laura Helmuth, Health, Science and Environment Editor, The Washington Post
  • Ivan Oransky, Vice President, Editorial at Medscape, Distinguished Writer In Residence, New York University’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute
  • Tiffany Lohwater, Chief Communications Officer, AAAS
  • Richard Stone, Senior Science Editor, Tangled Bank Studios
  • Curtis Brainard,  Managing Editor, Scientific American
  • Milica Momcilovic, Science Journalist and Anchor, Radio Television of Serbia
  • Shereen Joseph, Health Policy Consultant, Science Journalist and Communications Specialist

It is our hope that this Symposium will provide key insights to better the overall practice of science journalism.



THE PRIMERS



Session 1: NAVIGATING UNFAMILIAR WATERS: POLICY COVERAGE AT SCIENCE NEWS OUTLETS

 

Moderator:

  • Nancy Shute, Editor in Chief, Science News

Speakers:

  • David Malakoff, Deputy News Editor, Science
  • Lauren Morello, Americas Bureau Chief, Nature
  • Josh Fischman, Senior Editor, Scientific American

 

 

Policy coverage tends not to be the main focus of science editors. Political coverage is also not what readers expect from their science news outlets. Within this context, how do different science news outlets cover policy and politics? At science news magazines, resources dedicated to policy coverage – investigative and data reporting as well as access to source networks – are scarce. How do science news outlets approach these challenges? How do science news outlets gauge readers interest in their policy coverage? When it comes to hot button policy issues, how do science news magazines decide when and how to compete with coverage from established mainstream news outlets (e.g. the New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.)? Coverage of policy at science magazines generally strive to remain nonpartisan and apolitical. How do these magazines stay grounded in the guiding tenets to remain impartial yet adhere to the evidence?


Session 2: HOW TO PLAY BIG WHEN YOU’RE THE SMALL FISH: SCIENCE AND POLICY COVERAGE IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA

 

Moderator:

  • Rick Weiss, Director, SciLine

Speakers:

  • Juliet Eilperin, Senior National Affairs Correspondent, The Washington Post
  • Dan Vergano, Science Correspondent, Buzzfeed News
  • Roland Pease, Science Presenter, BBC World Service

 

 

Science news tends not to receive much of a spotlight (comparatively) at mainstream news outlets where leadership is more often promoted from the business or policy desks. Mainstream news outlets often already have policy teams in place. In what ways can the science desk contribute to policy coverage? In what ways can cross desk collaboration be fostered or improved? Science policy coverage can span a wide array of topics from environmental policy and space exploration to the science of politics, including how poling works and how voter opinions are captured as well as how governments regulate science and research. How can science journalists be better implicated in all facets of policy coverage?


Session 3: INFORMING POLICY – IS THERE A PLACE AT THE TABLE FOR SCIENCE JOURNALISTS?

Moderator:

  • Milica Momcilovic, Science Journalist and Radio and Television anchor, Serbia

Speakers:

  • Shirley Malcom, Director, Education and Human Resources Programs, AAAS
  • Kei Koizumi, Visiting Scholar in Science Policy, AAAS
  • Laura MacCleery, Policy Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest

 

 

The media informs the public but should also be a voice for the public to inform policy makers on what society wants and needs. From a policy making perspective, how much does media coverage influence and guide policy decisions? What are your views on how journalists should contribute to policy making? In theory, science journalists also serve as a bridge between those who would like to influence policy and policy makers. Do policy makers pay attention to science coverage in the media? What role should science journalists play in connecting policy makers and the public? In your experience, are science journalists’ coverage of policy sufficiently objective? Are science journalists missing important stories? Is science journalism currently an effective barrier to strongman politics that may reject available and established evidence?


Session 4:  REPORTING BEYOND ‘JUST THE FACTS’: SCIENCE, POLICY AND PUBLIC OPINION

Moderator:

  • Laura Helmuth, Health, Science and Environment Editor, The Washington Post

Speakers:

  • Max Boykoff, Director, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research
  • Cary Funk, Director of Science and Society Research, Pew Research Center
  • John Cook, RA Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University

 

 

First and foremost, journalists serve the public. With that as a guiding mandate, science journalists are looking for ways to better serve their readership. But are science journalists only relegated to the coverage of science alone? Topics – such as immigration for instance – are not issues that science journalist typically tackle. Are science journalists providing the type of coverage that helps foster a society that values evidence-based policy making? Do science journalists adequately inform the public so they understand specific policy issues? Are science journalists effectively framing stories of science and policy? When considering policy, people often take stances based on their own socio-economic and pre-existing belief systems. Compounding the problem, higher education does not appear to correlate to an ability to reassess opinions when faced with alternate facts but rather leads to further entrenchment in existing opinions. So, when covering policy, are the facts enough?



THE PROGRAM



Monday Evening, 18th February 2019


  • 17:00 — Informal Cocktail (Melrose Hotel)
  • 18:30 — DINNER
  • 19:30
    • Welcoming remarks (Christophe Bourillon, Executive Director, WFSJ)
    • Welcoming remarks (Eric Marshall, VP, Prizes and Public Programs, Kavli Foundation)
    • Introduction of participants (self-presentation – 30 secs each)
  • 19:40
    • Evening Keynote (Dan Diamond, Politico) (25 mins)
    • Q&A (20 mins)

Tuesday, 19th February 2019 


  • 07:30 — BREAKFAST
  • 08:10 — Shuttle bus to NAS
  • 08:40
    • Preview of the day ahead
    • Curtis Brainard (Managing Editor, Scientific American)
    • Welcoming Remarks from William Kearney (Executive Director, Office of News and Public Information, NAS)

  • 08:45 — SESSION 1 — NAVIGATING UNFAMILIAR WATERS: POLICY COVERAGE AT SCIENCE NEWS OUTLETS
    • Moderator: Nancy Shute (Editor in Chief, Science News)
    • Speakers on Panel:
      • David Malakoff (Deputy News Editor, Science)
      • Josh Fischman (Senior Editor, Scientific American)
      • Lauren Morello (Americas Bureau Chief, Nature)
    • Q&A (20 mins)

  • 10:00 — COFFEE BREAK

  • 10:30 — SESSION 2  HOW TO PLAY BIG WHEN YOU’RE THE SMALL FISH: SCIENCE AND POLICY COVERAGE IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA
    • Moderator: Rick Weiss (Director, SciLine)
    • Speakers on Panel:
      • Juliet Eilperin (Senior National Affairs Correspondent, The Washington Post)
      • Dan Vergano (Science Correspondent, Buzzfeed News)
      • Roland Pease (Science Presenter, BBC World Service)
    • Q&A (20 mins) 

  • 12:00 — LUNCH BUFFET

  • 13:30 SESSION 3 — INFORMING POLICY — IS THERE A PLACE AT THE TABLE FOR SCIENCE JOURNALISTS?
    • Moderator: Milica Momcilovic (Science Journalist and Radio and Television anchor)
    • Speakers on Panel:
      • Laura MacCleery (Policy Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest)
      • Shirley Malcom (Director, Education and Human Resources Programs, AAAS)
      • Kei Koizumi (Visiting Scholar in Science Policy, AAAS)
    • Q&A (20 mins)

  • 14:45 — COFFEE BREAK
  • 15:00 — REVIEW of KS4 DATA JOURNALISM PAIRING PROJECT (Brant Houston,  Josh Fischman and Anne-Marie Legault – 20 mins)
  • 15:20 — BREAKOUT SESSION 1 – Group discussion on how science journalism can best serve as check on policy making
  • 17:00 — END OF DAY ONE
  • 17:15 — Shuttlebus to Melrose Hotel
  • 18:00 — DINNER BUFFET           

Wednesday, 20th February 2019


  • 07:30 — Hotel check out and BREAKFAST (review goals for breakout session 2)
  • 08:10 — Shuttle bus to NAS
  • 08:40 — RECAP: Summary from previous day’s breakout session (key points) and setting expectations for the next breakout sessions.

  • 09:00  SESSION 4 — REPORTING BEYOND ‘JUST THE FACTS’: POLICY AND PUBLIC OPINION
    • Moderator: Laura Helmuth (Health, Science and Environment Editor, The Washington Post)
    • Speakers on Panel:
      • Cary Funk (Director of Science and Society Research, Pew Research Center)
      • Max Boykoff (Director, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research)
      • John Cook (RA Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University)
    • Q&A (20 mins)

  • 10:00 — COFFEE BREAK
  • 10:15 — BREAKOUT SESSION 2 – Group discussion on how science journalists can best inform the public on policy issues
  • 11:30 — LUNCH BUFFET
  • 12:30 — PLENARY DISCUSSION (moderated by Curtis Brainard)
  • 13:45 —  Closing Remarks (Shereen Joseph, Program Director)
  • 14:00 — CLOSURE


Accommodations at:

Melrose Georgetown Hotel

2430 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20037



Symposium sessions at:

Room NAS 120 at The National Academy of Sciences

2101 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, DC  20418



 

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine