Some of our nation’s top science journalists and communicators have produced a new online resource to support journalists reporting on complicated scientific issues.
The open-access website called SciJourno (www.scijourno.com.au) has been developed to help all journalists and journalism students with their day-to-day science news gathering. It is not just for those on the science round.
When science hits the headlines, whether it’s climate change, vaccination or coal seam gas, journalists increasingly have to get their heads around complicated scientific concepts with few resources and under stringent time pressures.
Liz Minchin, Queensland Editor of TheConversation.com and former environment reporter for The Age, said job cuts in the media mean fewer specialist reporters.
“General news reporters are increasingly asked to cover incredibly complex topics, on everything from what causes bushfires, to how the National Broadband Network works,” Ms Minchin said.
“Journalists need to know where to find good experts, what to ask, and how to best communicate what they find out, including through social media. And we also need scientists and technology experts to be able to explain their work and why it matters in clear, plain English.
“There’s a huge public appetite for science stories; the challenge for everyone is to tell those stories well.”
Funded by The Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia programme, it is hoped that SciJourno will be used by working journalists, needing to brush up on their science knowledge as well as post- and undergraduate journalism students and lecturers/teachers of journalism courses.
The topics covered range from what makes a reliable scientific source, through to working with big numbers and data, and what to do when science gets politicised. The six units include videos, practical exercises, tips/tools, links and resource lists.
Contributors to Scijourno include:
- Paul Willis, Director of the Royal Institute of Australia (and previously a reporter with Catalyst on ABC)
- Mark Suleau, recently retired from Channel 10 after more than 40 years as a journalist
- Liz Minchin, currently Queensland editor of The Conversation
- Graham Readfearn, independent journalist and blogger
- Natalie Bochenski, a senior Brisbane journalist currently working with Queensland Times.
For media interviews or more information
Dr. Joan Leach, Senior Lecturer in Rhetoric and Science Communication
The University of Queensland, Brisbane
07 3365 3196
Jenni Metcalfe, Director
Econnect Communication, Brisbane
07 3846 7111, 0408 551 866
Lyndal Byford, Media Manager
Australian Science Media Centre, Adelaide
08 7120 8666
Scijourno was a collaborative project between The University of Queensland, AusSMC (Australian Science Media Centre), Econnect Communication, and with advice from the University of Western Australia