New resource centre for journalists covering science
The Science Media Centre (SMC) is a new resource that aims to help scientists and writers connect. It is an independent, not-for-profit organization that wants to help general assignment reporters access the experts and evidence-based research they need to cover science in the news (i.e. the new marine census).
The SMC site says:
"Science has never been more pervasive in everyday life, yet seldom have so many people felt so unconnected to it. Meanwhile structural changes in the mass media mean there are fewer and fewer specialized medical and science journalists. The burden is falling instead on general assignment reporters, who mostly lack the expertise to present science in an engaging fashion."
The idea started in 2008 when "a small group of concerned journalists, researchers and public supporters of science" dreamed up a site that would provide help to general assignment reporters. SMC is modelled after similar centres in the U.K. and Australia.
From the SMC site:
"The Science Media Centre of Canada will help journalists cover stories in which science plays an important part. This means everything from stories where science is the story - such as the discovery of a new Earth-like planet – to stories where science provides the crucial factual underpinning - such as citizen opposition to cellphone towers. The word “science” encompasses the natural, social and biomedical sciences and also includes stories dealing with technology, engineering, environment and some aspects of the humanities."
The centre's goals are to increase public engagement with science issues by helping journalists access the resources needed to write informed, more accurate stories. "Scientists, journalists, policy makers and the public will benefit", the site says. Priority will be given to helping journalists who "don't have the luxury of specializing in covering science, the usually overworked and too often under-appreciated General Assignment reporters." It also hopes to provide a range of services that will be useful to feature writers, editors, producers and science journalists.