Under the theme of “Science Meets Journalism- Multidisciplinary Perspectives,” the Goethe Institute and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) hosted a conference about science journalism on Saturday.
The two-day event is part of the project “Scientific Storytelling” which the Goethe Institute has organised since 2007 in cooperation with the DAAD, with support of the German Federal Foreign Office.
Dozens of science journalists, scientists, and science lovers have gathered to address the challenges that science journalism is facing, including the relation between scientific research and journalism, fake news, and how media shapes and impact people’s common knowledge about scientific topics.
Prominent Egyptian Novelist and science Journalist Mohamed El-Makhzangy was the keynote speaker in the conference opening. He emphasised the significance of science journalism in simplifying the scientific knowledge for the laymen, and how it is important for science journalists to understand and digest the scientific topics before delivering it to an audience.
During the event, Fatma Soliman, representative of the DAAD highlighted the efforts of her organisation in supporting scientific research and helping scientists promote their research, achievements, and delivery to the public in a simple way.
Soliman added that DAAD sends five journalists per year to Germany to learn about the science communication community there.
Hanan Badr, media and communication scholar at Cairo University and at Freie Universität in Berlin, stressed the need for more conferences to explain the way science touches our lives and changes the way which public audience looks at scientists.
One of the main speakers at the conference, Ehab El-Refaee, assistant professor of neurology at Cairo University, told Daily News Egypt (DNE) that scientists and journalists are not communicating in the best way.
He believes that one of the major misunderstandings is the conflict of interest and the mix between journalism and advertisement.
Ahmed Balah, senior editor of Nature journal stressed to DNE that science journalists should avoid conflict of interest between promotion and real scientific reporting. He also highlighted that science journalists should fact check their work and learn the basics of using scientific technology.
Balah is of the view that specialising in a certain area in science journalism is important. It allows the journalist to focus on their topic of interest and garners them credibility as an expert in their chosen field.
Bothina Osama, MENA regional co-ordinator at SciDev.Net said in her speech that topics such as water issues and health are attracting Arab audiences more than any other topic. She also believes that Arab audience is consuming science through scientific articles at higher rates.