science 11.2.2016 8:59

Debate stresses need for higher quality science journalism

Ljubljana, 11 February - A poor state of science journalism in Slovenia was descried at a panel debate in Ljubljana on Monday. The key issues highlighted were inexperienced and overburdened journalists, passive editorial policy, a passive scientific community and the tendency to "sell unbelievable stories and miraculous recoveries".

Ljubljana, poligon.
Pogovor na temo Informacijska družba v medijih.
Foto: STA

Ljubljana, poligon.
Pogovor na temo Informacijska družba v medijih.
Foto: STA

The discussion, organised by the Citizen D (Državljan D) society, heard Maja Ratej of Radio Slovenija noting the lack of continuous reporting on science.

Ratej, who is editor of the public radio's Frequency X show on science, said that foreign media acknowledged science as an important topic that is on par with politics and the economy.

Ratej and her editor colleague from TV Slovenija Renata Dacinger agreed that reporting on science required a lot of devotion, knowledge and time, which Ratej noted was a problem in a time when journalists are engaged in a "hectic battle" that is mainly about quantity.

Saša Novak of the research Institute Jožef Štefan urged more cooperation between scientists and journalists, arguing this was the way to tackle the problem of making complex topics reader-friendly. The debaters agreed that an institution facilitating such cooperation would be necessary.

The debate also heard calls for a more active approach on the part of scientists, who Ratej said are adopting a defensive attitude over fear that their statements would be manipulated.

"We are withdrawing because we are committed to the truth," said Novak, adding that bad science emerges the second one starts talking about things one does not really know.

While Dacinger called for the introduction of science journalism as a major during journalism studies, the panellists indicated that the public also needed to be educated about the importance of science topics and approach them in a more responsible way.