WCSJ2017 partners launch international program fund

Esther Nakkazi, Christopher Bendana, Philip Keitany, and Luciana Viegas Assumpcao enjoy the opening gala of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Photo: David Poller

The organizers of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists are pleased to announce plans for a suite of activities to extend the impact of the October 2017 conference in San Francisco by strengthening training, networking, and knowledge-sharing among science journalists worldwide.

A new fund, the WCSJ International Program Fund, has been established by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing in partnership with the National Association of Science Writers to support these efforts through the use of generous donations from WCSJ2017 conference sponsors. The funds were made available through judicious management of conference costs that resulted in savings of more than 10% of the conference budget. In keeping with the wishes of WCSJ2017 sponsors and the organizers, these funds will be used to support science journalism through post-conference activities organized by the partners and coordinated with the World Federation of Science Journalists.

Roughly half of these conference proceeds were returned to the WFSJ, CASW and NASW in the form of program support and to recoup costs incurred during the planning and production of WCSJ2017. Each of the three organizations invested significant staff time and other resources to produce the conference.

The remaining proceeds will be managed by the organizing partners to support important new initiatives intended to continue building connections between US and international science journalists in the years to come.

“Enormous staff and volunteer effort went into making sure travel, hospitality, logistics and programming for WCSJ2017 were covered largely by sponsorships so that we could enable the broadest possible participation, providing a record number of travel fellowships and keeping registration fees below past conferences,” said Cristine Russell, co-chair of the WCSJ2017 Organizing Committee. “Many of our sponsors did not want to support only the conference; they wanted the conference to have a lasting impact on global science journalism. To our donors we can now say ‘yes, we can do that!’ We are excited to be able to leverage our savings to give WCSJ2017 that extra impact.”

“We met our fundraising goals, and we were thrilled at the support of an array of sponsors who all embraced science journalism as extraordinarily important in the 21st century. In the end, we were able to reduce costs through NASW’s skillful management, the work of a large cadre of volunteers, the funded travelers who shared rooms and found other sources of support, and the donated facilities and support of generous hosts including UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley,” Russell said.

“We all congratulate the executive directors of NASW and CASW, Tinsley Davis and Rosalind Reid respectively, for their extraordinary management, which made the new initiatives possible,” said Ron Winslow, co-chair of the WCSJ2017 Organizing Committee. “And thanks to the generosity and commitment of our sponsors, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build on the spirit, energy and ideas generated in San Francisco. This is a huge benefit for science journalism around the globe.”

Among the activities intended to be supported by the new international fund are: translation of WCSJ2017 session videos to Spanish and French; sustained development of the regional network of Latin American and Caribbean science journalists launched at WCSJ2017; knowledge transfer to future conference hosts; a joint diversity initiative; support for efforts to locate a future conference in a developing country; future conference travel grants; and a networking platform. A steering committee of WCSJ2017 organizers and leaders of partner organizations will provide advice on the management and use of the fund.

The organizers of WCSJ2017 are grateful to WFSJ for its key role in conference fundraising and workshop programming, as well as the hosts and sponsors whose support made possible not only the conference but the follow-on activities, first among them WCSJ2017’s Diamond Sponsor, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and host universities, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. The amount of funds available for programs will be known when the conference books are closed and a final report issued in coming weeks.