Science for journalists
This project aims to help non-specialist journalists understand the principles of science and the statistics that underpin scientific work.
It is hosted by the Royal Statistical Society, in collaboration with the Science Media Centre, and grant-funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Additional grant funding has been provided by Research Councils UK.
In January 2010, the Science and the Media Expert Group published its report “Securing the Future”. One strand of the report was on science training for non-specialist journalists, and it recommended creating a full-time post to coordinate this:
Rationale: Many of the problems associated with science reporting emanate from non-specialist journalists and editors. They will not have the same background and contact list as a specialist to help them make quick judgements about the validity of a story. Equally, many sub editors and editors are unlikely to have much of a background in science reporting. Fostering greater science literacy in the whole journalism community can only improve accuracy of content. Coordinating these efforts and providing content to organisations that want it would be useful and well received. This means providing training content, in a form that it will be used, to: practising journalists, sub editors, editors, trainees and students. Any training material produced would have to be appropriate to the audience and pitched positively – giving people the tools to uncover the next big science story and cover it accurately.
Frank Swain is the project coordinator. Frank is a science graduate and has experience working at Sense About Science and on the government’s “Science: So What? So Everything campaign”. Among other things he has written for the Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Wired, New Scientist and BBC Focus.
Tel: 020 7614 3947