Scientific Foresight (STOA) By / July 12, 2022

The European Science-Media Hub summer school: science journalism and complex topics

Written by ESMH team. 4 days, 6 thematic sessions, 1 festival, 26 renowned speakers, 50 science journalists These are just…

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Written by ESMH team.

4 days, 6 thematic sessions, 1 festival, 26 renowned speakers, 50 science journalists

These are just some figures from the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH) summer school on ‘Journalism and climate change: how to tell complex stories?’, which took place on 8‑11 June 2022 in Brussels. The event focused on the increasing challenge of climate reporting, offering an open forum for journalists to look at possible solutions and to continue doing quality science-based story-telling.

The ESMH summer school 2022

At last, after a couple of years of Covid‑19 related restrictions, the ESMH was once more able to organise its big annual event – the summer school for young science journalists. This year, the summer school was held in a hybrid format, to adapt to the new working conditions imposed by the pandemic.

The first day of the event provided the participants with an overview of the actions that the European Union (EU) is taking on climate, ranging from the EU Green Deal to selected climate-related projects funded under Horizon 2020. Session 1 highlighted not only the environmental policies of the EU institutions, but also the efforts undertaken to engage with Europeans and to promote public awareness of the climate crisis. Session 2 gave an insight into some concrete EU climate projects involving science journalists and communicators, and society more widely.

The morning of the second day (Session 3) dealt with climate topics in newsrooms. The participants engaged in an interesting debate with five experienced environmental reporters on the complexity of climate story-telling. Takeaways included: science journalists need to adapt to the changing media landscape, evolve along with scientific knowledge, and keep the public engaged with their stories while handling data. The additional big challenge is not to overwhelm the audience.

In the afternoon, Session 4 focused on the challenge of the misinformation trap on climate change and ways to tackle it.

Session 5 on day three of the event was dedicated to collaborative EU journalistic projects on climate change. It stressed the added value of what the EU can do for science journalists in terms of networking, liaising with institutions and expanding the range of information sources available.

Session 6 focused on constructive journalism and on the importance of giving positive messages about climate change to the public, so that people feel they can play an active role in solving environmental issues.

The day closed with some final remarks from Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) Chair Christian Ehler (EPP, Germany), who underlined once again the European Parliament’s engagement on the climate challenge. He also emphasised the importance of EU institutions working with the media, especially on complex topics such as climate change and academic freedom.

During the afternoon and the following day, the summer school participants attended a short presentation of the New European Bauhaus project before joining the Festival of the New European Bauhaus, organised by the European Commission.

Past and future editions of the ESMH summer school

The ESMH summer school is an annual event – the first of this kind in the European Parliament – organised with the aim of offering a learning opportunity to young media makers from EU Member States.One of the main objectives of the ESMH is to organise seminars and events for media representatives on current scientific and technological developments.

The first edition of the ESMH summer school for young journalists – labelled ‘European Youth Science-Media Days (EYSMD)’ – took place from 4 to 7 June 2019 in Strasbourg. The three-day science event for young media makers was organised with the cooperation of the European Youth Press network (EYP) and provided an overview of existing interlinks between artificial intelligence (AI) and journalism.

Unfortunately, the pandemic prevented the ESMH from organising the second edition in May 2020. However, in October 2021, ESMH participated in the EYE2021 youth conference in Strasbourg and hostedthe ‘Telling stories on climate change: has the corona crisis changed the debate’ workshop(with in-person attendance) in cooperation with the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for Communication and in the context of the two-day European Generation Media Lab event. The ESMH team is already getting very positive feedback on this year’s event, both from speakers and participants. Good suggestions for new topics and further enhancements will be taken on board when organising the next edition of the summer school, possibly in 2023.

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