WCSJ 2013 Programm Ausschreibung
Science is beginning to outpace our global policymaking apparatus so rapidly that the situation is posing serious challenges to democracy, and yet these people don’t even seem to understand the enormity of the problem or the need for discussion to begin to understand. — Shawn Otto
Ironically scientists and policy makers [understand it] perhaps better than science journalists. — Wolfgang Goede
Science Debates generate stories and income. With Science Debates science journalists perform even better with their role in society.
This session aims directly at the heart of the WCSJ motto “Critical Questioning in the Public sphere” as Science Debates are a solution for science journalists to perform better with their role in society.
Although many serious political decisions, which are influencing the life of citizens, are dependent on research results (genetics, medical research, climate, environment, energy, mobility, communication), there are no real public debates happening about the meaning and aims of science. However, the interest in taking part and get heard increases especially in young citizens. From their point of view, political decisions even in research and innovation are made by a closed, distant kind of parallel society. Even more, transparency is broadly missing blocking the desired participation of citizens.
There are plenty of debates organised by governments or science institutions, e.g. about electric mobility or the future of energy supply. But these are usually pseudo-debates in order to gain a retrospect acceptance for decisions which have already been made. Thus the variety of topics is limited to hegemonic ones which follow political fashions.
The proposed Science Debate is about the role and social position of science and technology per se, including humanities and social sciences. It is true, science and technology can solve problems, but they also produce them. An often forgotten aspect is that science is also a cultural activity like art and music.
Science journalists do play an important role in this context. In particular, they can set journalistic agendas. Traditionally, journalists do research, explain facts, select and evaluate. Thus they try to give their audiences as independent guidance as possible for their own decisions. At the same time they are also mediators between science, politics and their audience, the public.
Ideally, they play back the questions, problems and ideas from the public to the scientists, to the science politicians and organisations, and call for answers in interviews, which in turn can become subject to reports and stories.
The Science Debate will deliver topics which are of real interest for the citizens, and which are not driven by the interest of researchers, the industry or governments as donors. In a socially broad-based Science Debate the debate itself can deliver topics for news, reports, comments, or science stories. Thus a science debate can be used for story digging comparable to data driven journalism.
Goal of the session: The session will show the relevance of Science Debates as a tool for science journalists in an international framework. By that it will help to strengthen the role of science journalists in society, especially when they want to achieve “Critical Questioning in the Public sphere”, the WCSJ motto.
Format: Duration: 40 minutes on Tuesday, June 25 among the parallel morning sessions
Speakers: Hanns-J. Neubert (10 min): The need to think anew in science journalism and experiences from the German Science Debate.
Priit Ennet (10 min): The Estonian TV Science Debate and the need to be international.
Shawn L. Otto (15 min): The idea of the first ever Science Debate, the tenets learned from two election campaigns, and the need to broaden globally.
Producer: Hanns-J. Neubert, Freelance science journalist, Co-Founder of the German Science Debate, Chair of the board of TELI (Germany), Chair of the International Advisory Network for WCSJ2013, President emeritus EUSJA