International call for projects in medical journalism

Description

The Leenaards Foundation, a philanthropic foundation based in Lausanne (Switzerland), has launch an international journalism competition on the theme of personalized health, also known as precision medicine. Personalized health results from the convergence of different phenomena: the acceleration of genome sequencing, the development of Big Data about health, and the improvement of analytical algorithms. 

This call for projects is part of the SantéPerSo initiative which gives citizens the opportunity to better understand this change through information and discussion projects.

Participants are invited to propose an original journalistic treatment of an aspect of personalized health, in french or english. The format must be multimedia, including at least two different media supports, for example text and video, or podcast and infographic.

Prizes

The three winning entries will receive cash prizes to enable the winners to carry out their projects:

  • First prize: 8,000 Swiss francs ( around 8,170 US Dollars)
  • Second prize: 4,000 Swiss francs ( around 4,085 US Dollars)
  • Third prize: 3,000 Swiss francs ( around 3,063 US Dollars)

Deadline

Participants can submit their projects until the 16th of September 2019 at midnight.

Registration

For more information, participation terms and registration click here.

Science Talks with the ACAMH about Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Considering that the World Suicide Prevention Day will be on Tuesday September 10, Science Talks with the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH), the media interested in learning more about Suicide Prevention and Awareness to inform their reporting should attend. Participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of:

  • The prevalence and significance of suicidal and self-harm behaviour in young people.
  • Key risk factors for suicide and self-harm behaviour.
  • Diverse evidence-based and evidence-informed suicide preventive interventions.
  • How journalists can best report on suicide/self-harm to strengthen suicide prevention. 

The speakers will be Dr. Joan Asarnow and Dr. Dennis Ougrin. The webinar will include time for questions and answers. For more information or registration.

NOTE: Science Talks webinars are recorded for on-demand viewing.

Strategy meeting on the WFSJ/Kavli future projects

The WFSJ is organising a strategy meeting on the WFSJ/Kavli future projects to be held in Lausanne on Wednesday 3 July from 12:30-14:30h.

We would like to sample a wide range of opinions of active science journalists from around the world on the needs and challenges they are facing that could be discussed in future WFSJ/Kavli science journalism symposia.

If you are attending the WCSJ19 and would like to attend the brainstorming meeting, please apply to attend (spaces are limited) and fill in this survey. We will select a small number of participants based on the content of their survey replies.

  1. What do you think worked well in previous Kavli symposia?
  2. What do you think didn’t work well in previous Kavli symposia?
  3. How would you like to see future Kavli symposia improve?
  4. What are the key challenges facing science journalists today?
  5. Name one thing that would improve the quality of science in the media?
  6. What are the other topics or issues you think the Kavli symposia should tackle in the future?
  7. What are the main limitations or restrictions to work as a science journalist in your country?
  8. How would you rank the following as potential future topics for Kavli symposia (Ranking: Not Interesting, Interesting, Very Interesting):
    • Investigating science: reporting on research misconduct and exposing bad science Investigating science: reporting on research misconduct and exposing bad scienceGoing beyond daily news and single-paper stories: the challenge of ‘long news’ that matter and science reporting for the deep future
    • Media and scientific freedoms in a world or corporate control and science PR
    • Citizen journalism, crowdsourced science, and democratization of science journalism: challenges and opportunities of audience-driven reporting and co-production of knowledge
    • The business of science: reporting on private-sector research and commercialization of science
    • Reinventing media channels for science stories: the latest developments in technologies and platforms for quality science journalism, especially for freelancers
    • Reporting on policy and dealing with censorship: How state power and political structures shape the world of science and technology

Please send your responses to Mićo Tatalović at mico_tatalovic@hotmail.com

Three new Board members

Tuesday 6 June 2019: Ms. Andrada Fiscutean (Romania), Dr. Sunny Bains (UK) and M. Harry Surjadi (Indonesia) have been elected on the Board of Directors of the WFSJ. More information on our new Board members here

2019 European Immunization Training Workshop in Geneva

The World Federation of Science Journalists is organizing a 2.5 day European Immunization Training Workshop at the Brocher Foundation site on 14-16 October 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Objectives and Themes

The aim of the training workshop is to provide factual information on the state of immunization and to increase journalism skills for accurate immunization science coverage in Europe.

Training will cover many vaccination-related topics relevant to the European context such as basic vaccination science, the economy of vaccination, the science behind immunization strategies, vaccine hesitancy and social media polarization.


Extended Deadline for the 
European Immunization Training Workshop

Application Form

Leaders of the workshop are Daniela Ovadia (science journalist, neuroscientist and neuroethicist, CESJ, Agenzia Zoe, Neuroscience and Society Lab at the University of Pavia) and Alexandra Borissova (science reporter, senior lecturer at the Center for Science Communication – ITMO University and visiting researcher at Rhine-Waal University)

Training workshop program

  • Fabiana Zollo (Ca’ Foscari University, International Center for the Humanities and Social Change) on the Use of social media and polarization.
  • Emilie Karafillakis (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) on the role of culture and values in the anti-vax movement.
  • WHO experts, Dr Martin Howell Friede and Dr. Raymond Hutubessy, on the economy of vaccination, the future of the immunization, research and new vaccines.
  • More speakers to be confirmed

Eligibility: The primary focus is on European junior science journalists or general beat journalists, occasionally covering science topics. Anyone who actively writes, edits or produces science news, information or commentary for an independent media, is working as a staff member of such media or as a freelance journalist in Europe. English proficiency is required.

Details: Up to 20 participants from Europe will be selected for attending the workshop. Travel expenses, accommodation and workshop materials will be paid for.

For more information, please contact: info@wfsj.org or go to this page


Scholarships offered to study at the University of Otago in New Zealand

Who is eligible?

Applications from specific African, Asian, Caribbean and Latin American countries, and from Bhutan, Jordan, Mongolia, Nepal and Timor-Leste.  New Zealand Scholarships are also available for undergraduate study to candidates from Timor-Leste. To check if your home country is eligible click here.

The purpose of these scholarships

For candidates to gain knowledge and skills through postgraduate study in specific subject areas that will assist in the development of their home country.

The Master of Science Communication

  • Is a two year course, with one year of coursework and one thesis year. For most of the students, the thesis year involves a creative component as well as an original scholarly research (A thesis comprising 100 % academic research is also an option).
  • The classes:
    • The core classes (papers) that all students take are:
      • SCOM402 Craft of Storytelling;
      • SCOM409 Introduction to Science Communication; and
      • SCOM413 Digital Production for Science Communication
    • The other three classes (papers) students take depends on their stream of study (filmmaking, creative non-fiction writing or science in society). To see the options click here
  • For scholarship information click here

Dr. David Stukus: “I think we need to start educating school children on how to spot “Fake News” and think independently”

Nationwide Children’s Hospital was founded in 1892, today it’s one of the largest children’s hospital in the USA. Only in 2017 Nationwide Children’s Hospital had more than 1.4 million patient visits from all around the USA and the world. 1  Dr. David Stukus is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Section of Allergy/Immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Director of the Hospital’s Complex Asthma Clinic, his focus is on asthma and food allergies.2  He was more than willing to answer a few questions, but if you want to stay updated…you better go and follow him at @AllergyKidsDoc

I would like to start the interview with an important question for the Balkan region regarding the anti-vaccination movement.  In 2018 the WFSJ published the article “ When the media gets science wrong: the deadly measles epidemic in Serbia“, so in your opinion how much the anti-vaccination movement is dangerous in a long term period?

Dr. David Stukus: This is a great place to start! Any movement that is based on pseudoscience and fear mongering is dangerous to society. The false beliefs and misconceptions perpetutated throughout the anti-vaccine movement have sowed doubt into the minds of well intentioned and concerned parents across the world. We are seeing a resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases such as measles after achieving complete eradication in some countries. Vaccine hesitancy was named a Top 10 Global Health Threat by the World Health Organization for 2019 – if that doesn’t demonstrate how dangerous this is, I don’t know what does.

Every day we can read about detoxification and how to clean our body from heavy metals, but what do you think about detoxification for kids? Do kids really need detoxification and body cleanse?

Dr.David Stukus: I’ll reply for both children and adults: No one needs detoxification or cleanses! Our bodies are extremely effective at removing harmful substances and rely on our kidneys, liver, and lungs for that exact purpose. This is another area filled with misinformation and fear mongering, all in the name of profit and empty promises. Harm occurs from people spending their hard earned money on unnecessary treatment programs, or worse, avoiding proven medical treatments for their underlying conditions in lieu of these unproven and unnecessary options. It’s ironic that the extreme versions of these detoxes and cleanses can actually create unnatural imbalances inside the body and deficiencies in necessary vitamins and minerals.

What do you think about the state of science and health journalism in the US, what would you like to be changed?

Dr. David Stukus: Like most things, there are really great examples and really bad examples. It all depends on what outlets you use. I would like to see stories on science and health reported by journalists who have received training and have an understanding of the nuances involved in research studies. Too many headlines are formatted to generate clicks and shares and miss the mark on what a study actually demonstrated. There is also a major imbalance in favour of the eye catching rare stories that generate interest but then falsely represent an issue. For instance, to achieve true journalistic balance, for every story about a person who experienced a rare complication from receiving a vaccine, there should be a million other stories that report on the safety and efficacy of vaccines. THAT is an accurate representation.

I like the way you are using Twitter, it’s very educational and interesting. A few months ago you wrote:  “Making decisions about your health or wellness based upon information from unqualified individuals – especially those who are also trying to sell you products or services. That’s called advertising.” We can see so many advertisements and advices like “Take Zinc every day, you need to take higher doses of vitamin C for your immunity…” , people can get scared sometimes and they would buy whatever it takes for their health, so how do we find balance and do we really need to take daily doses of supplements?

Dr. David Stukus: I think we need to start educating school children on how to spot “Fake News” and think independently. Science literacy is declining and too many people mistake the information they receive on social media, through online articles, or from celebrities as credible. Medical experts and scientists are no longer seen as the experts – partly due to our collective inability to communicate in a manner that is received and understood by others. It’s much more powerful to hear an emotional testimonial from someone who looks like you than a stuffy educated doctor or scientist that very few people relate towards.

People also fail to recognize the difference between an advertisement and an unbiased evidence-based recommendation. A simple thing every single person can start doing immediately to help with this is to ask themselves one question: Is the source of information I just received also trying to sell me something (products, books, services, etc)? If yes – that is a conflict of interest and that information is biased. This happens all the time with supplements, vitamins, homeopathic remedies, etc. There are a few medical conditions that would benefit from treatment with the right supplement but unless someone has been evaluated by a qualified medical professional and been diagnosed with one of those conditions, there is no medical indication to use supplements. People should focus on eating an overall healthy diet and receive their nutrition from actual food instead of pills.

We can see articles about how honey can treat allergies,  the truth is?

Dr. David Stukus: Not at all. Honey is made by bees who collect pollen from non-wind borne plants such as flowers. The pollen that causes allergy symptoms comes from wind borne plants such as tress, grass, and weeds. Not only does honey not contain the same pollen that causes allergy symptoms, but if it did, then people with pollen allergies would be having reactions from eating a big mouthful of exactly what they are allergic to!

What do you like the most about your job and what is not such a good side? We can see different movements, parents who are raising vegetarian kids and there are so many conspiracy theories, does this makes your job more challenging? Do kids need to be vegetarians?

Dr. David Stukus: I love forming long lasting connections with children and their families. They trust me with personal information and their deepest concerns. I can use my education, training, and 10+ years of clinical experience to listen to their concerns and offer suggestions as to what may be causing their symptoms, as well as some ideas on how to make them feel better. I have learned so much from the conversations that I have on social media and observing the conspiracy theorists and their falsely held beliefs. I know that most of my patients are also using social media to find information pertaining to their health. I also know that at times they may post my own recommendations from the appointment they had with me to see if their social networks agree or not. As challenging as that may be, and disruptive to our personal relationship, I acknowledge that is how our world operates and I openly discuss that aspect with families. I anticipate they will go online and tell them that not all information is credible or useful. I always offer to serve as a trusted source of evidence based information should they have questions.

What are the top five biggest myths (in your opinion) and can you tell us what is the truth?

Dr.David Stukus: Myth: Doctors make a ton of money from pushing vaccines or drugs. Truth: Not at all. Trust me, we’d make MUCH more money if we skipped proven medical treatment and instead allowed our patients to have bad outcomes and require treatment in the emergency department or hospital.

Myth: I have a hypoallergenic pet. Truth: “Hypoallergenic” dogs and cats do not exist. All of them release dander, which is what causes allergy symptoms, from their saliva, skin cells, and urine. Some breeds may cause more symptoms in some individuals compared with others, but this can only be determined through repeated direct exposure.

Myth: I’m allergic to penicillin. Truth: 10 % of people report having penicillin allergy but 95 % of those people are not actually allergic. Side effects, family history, and misunderstanding of what constitutes an allergic reaction are often misconstrued when the term ‘allergy’ is applied.

Myth: The flu shot gives you the flu. Truth: Influenza vaccines administered by injection contain small pieces of the influenza virus to help build immunity. There is no active virus and it is impossible for it to cause active influenza infection.

Myth: I read it online, it must be true. Truth: Not at all. There is zero regulation of any medical content online. It is important to learn how to navigate online resources when searching for health information.

What is the best advice you can give to parents?

Dr.David Stukus: Your child’s personal doctor is the best source of information pertaining to their care. If you have questions or concerns about their health, please ask their doctor. There are so many nuances and individual differences that make it impossible to take information from other people’s anecdotes or online sources to know whether any of it applies to each individual child. Your child’s doctor honestly cares about your family and wants you to have the best information to make decisions and ultimately for your child to have the best outcomes. The years of training and clinical experience that your child’s doctor can offer simply cannot be replaced by advice from well intentioned friends, family members, or social media contacts, ESPECIALLY if they themselves are not a qualified medical provider.

Source1 and 2: www.nationwidechildrens.org

About the author:  Maria Bolevich is a 29-year-old graduate of the Medical High School and of the Faculty of Metallurgy and Technology, Department of Environmental protection at the University of Montenegro. She wrote her first scientific article in 2009 which triggered her passion for science journalism.  She works as a freelance science and environmental journalist and she is based in Croatia.

Science Talks on What Journalists Need to Know About Healthy Aging

Media interested in learning more about healthy aging to inform their reporting should attend this webinar. Participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of:

  • What are the dynamics of the aging process and why we are living longer?
  • What do geriatricians mean by “healthy aging”?
  • How does prevention reduce the risk of serious medical issues?
  • What are some of the most common medical issues associated with aging and increased longevity?
  • How much physical activity do people over age 50 need?
  • How important is diet in the health of older individuals? What other lifestyle issues are important in healthy aging?

For more information click here

York University’s Faculty of Science: call for the next Science Communicator in Residence

The next Science Communicator in Residence at York University’s Faculty of Science is now open for applications if you or anyone you know might be interested. It’s for the 2019-2020 academic year and could be four weeks to four months in length. Canadian and international science journalists in all media, whether currently working full-time or freelance, are eligible to apply. The deadline to apply is April 23, 2019. For more information click here.

 

 

Opportunity: 10-Month Climate Journalism Mentorship

Climate Tracker has developed with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation a climate journalism mentorship opportunity.

What is the mentorship? What do mentees get?

Five aspiring and emerging climate journalists will be selected from different regions to participate in a 10-month online mentorship on climate solutions and journalism with Climate Tracker. The fellows will receive guidance and training from them, they will write for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation One Earth website, and receive a monthly stipend of USD150. One of the five fellows will be funded to attend an international climate change conference.

Eligibility

Those who are from or are living in the following regions are eligible:

  • Africa
  • Asia-Pacific
  • Europe
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • South Asia

They accept applicants that are between 18 and 30 years old, but you are encouraged to apply anyway if you do not fulfil this requirement! This is an exciting opportunity for both newer and more experienced writers. They are looking for people who are deeply committed to writing about climate change and the environment, are skilled and creative journalists who are willing to experiment with new multimedia, and are self-motivated and reliable.

How to Apply

  1. Write an article about local solutions and responses to climate change. How have individuals, communities, or governments harnessing the powers of technology, science, community activism, policy, or others to solve the climate crisis?
  2. Publish your article. You have to find a news site, blog, newspaper, magazine, etc. Willing to publish your article. It can be at a national, regional, local or international level. Aim for the one with best outreach across the region.

  3. Submit your article to their platform. After submitting, they will rate your articles, and select writers to interview. Writers will be informed by April of their status. Deadline Publish and submit your article by March 31, 2019.

Please click here to find out more and to apply.

If you have any additional questions, email Lily Jamaludin at lily@climatetracker.org