← back to all news Science in the newsroom 2019: a new report from the World Editors Forum
This new report by the World Editors Forum, WAN-IFRA, and Fergus Bell unpacks the challenge and offers some solutions to improve newsroom practices and processes around health, science and consumer affairs reporting in 2019.
The scale and depth of disinformation circulating in our societies is a deep concern, not just for the news industry, but for all those who believe that to function effectively, people need accurate, verified information.
Emerging technologies, trust in the industry and bad actors spreading both mis and disinformation are challenges that all journalists will face in 2019.
The World Editors Forum, the network for editors within the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), is focused on addressing this information disorder by strengthening professional journalism.
Says Wan-Ifra: “Our focus extends beyond political disinformation to the specialist subjects which impact the lives of those in our societies. It stretches to the type of information which informs how we choose to live our lives. In standard newsroom terms, this is what is reported around science, health and consumer affairs.
“Specialist reporters in the fields of science and consumer affairs have to contend with the broad issues facing all of their peers, but also very specific off-shoots that impact directly on their ability to work to the highest of standards. Niche reporters face an overwhelming volume of scientific data and papers but also unsubstantiated opinion and an ever-growing battalion of "influencers".
In facing the same challenges as their peers, niche reporters have a lot that can be learned from both colleagues and the wider journalism community. These might be new storytelling techniques, new ways to visualise data or publishing methods that stop misinformation campaigns in their tracks.
Journalists are used to developing sources, but niche reporters in the field of science and areas such as consumer affairs must develop trusting relationships with entire institutions or scientific communities – all within a sector that has a need to publicise its work but little knowledge of the process that must be carried out to do so.
The World Editors Forum has initiated a Science in the Newsroom project to identify points of pain faced by newsrooms in covering these issues accurately and to come up with solutions that will help strengthen the quality of reporting. Using co-design methodology, we were able to fully map out existing processes in the reporting of science and consumer affairs stories.
“This then allowed us to identify both the challenges and opportunities for improvement in these fields. By publishing this design process, it is hoped that reporters might benefit from the expert discussions and perhaps build on their own initiatives to make significant developments, improvements, and progress in this space.”