Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

World Conference of Science Journalists convenes in Doha

CASW has joined other organizations in support of science communication around the world in sponsoring the 2011 World Conference of Science Journalists in Doha, Qatar June 26-29.

More than 600 science journalists from six continents participated in sessions aimed at promoting international dialogue on topics such as "risky reporting"--the challenges of covering science topics that intersect with personal or political views. Writers face many risks and challenges when covering issues such as evolution, biodiversity and global climate change; some of these are universal, and others vary with political, cultural, economic and religious contexts and constraints on expression around the world.

The conference, originally planned to be held in Cairo, was the culmination of more than two years of collaboration between conference co-hosts, the National Association of Science Writers in the U.S. and the Arab Science Journalists Association, and will open with a focus on Arab science. Deborah Blum of NASW, a member of the CASW Board of Directors and member-at-large of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) for North America, is the Program Chair. Several Qatar-based organizations provided major sponsorship funds to allow the venue to be moved from Cairo when events in that country threatened the conference prospects.

CASW is an Associate Partner of the umbrella organization for the conference, the WFSJ, which promotes the role of science journalists as key players in civil society and democracy. CASW is also one of five sponsoring organizations providing seed funding for the event. CASW President Cristine Russell has served on the Steering Committee, and Vice President Charles Petit on the Communications Committee. Presenters on the agenda included CASW Secretary Tom Siegfried and Board Member Rosalind Reid.

“There is tremendous excitement about the Doha conference and the impressive partnership between Arab and American science writers in co-hosting this international science-writing event. Congratulations to NASW and also to Deb Blum for her tremendous leadership from start to finish in creating a truly global program,” said Russell. “Thanks also to our Egyptian colleagues Nadia El-Awady and Dalia Abdel-Salam for their efforts as co-directors of the conference.”

Among the activities CASW helped organize in Doha are:

  • Two plenary sessions: "Journalism and Democracy in the Arab World," and "Am I a Science Journalist?"
  • "Journalism in the Age of Denial," a panel on denialism of scientific evidence.
  • Additional panels: "From Ink to Electrons: Managing the Science Magazine Transition to the Digital Age," "Uses of the Past: History of Science as a Tool for Science Journalists," and"The Ethical Compass: North, South, and Other Directions."
  • A workshop on "Implementing a Science Journalism Curriculum," with special attention to university settings in the Arab world.