ABSW panel discussion: A conversation on truth, science and journalism
The ABSW held this panel discussion on Thursday 2 November 2017 in London.
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Truth is in the spotlight -- there’s much debate about how to find it and whether it still carries weight in our society. Media covering UK and US politics have lamented how truth is being sacrificed to misinformation, myth, spin or outright lies. During the US pre-election period, publishers from the Guardian to the New York Times to NPR pushed their fact-checking services. The need to tackle fake news then captured the attention of major social media players like Facebook.
Journalism is reflecting hard on how to adapt to deal with what’s seen as the era of post-truth, and science commentators have lamented how evidence is being sacrificed to spin and fake news.
What’s the role of science journalism in these debates? This panel discussion aims to jump-start a conversation around this question among the science journalism community.
The point of departure is that journalism and science aim for truth in different ways, and both are being challenged. On one hand, recent events suggest a deep questioning of what counts as a believable fact and truth. How does this relate to science journalism practice? On the other hand, the crisis of trust in scientific evidence has arguably been building for some time, perhaps most clearly in the case of climate change. Is science losing its relevance as a source of truth, and what’s the role of journalists in communicating a science that the public can trust?
The event was moderated by: Mun-Keet Looi, editor, Wellcome Trust
Philip Ball, science writer
Jane Gregory, science communication scholar
James Ball, special correspondent at Buzzfeed and author of Post-truth: How bullshit conquered the world
Andy Miah, chair in science communication programme, University of Salford
Many thanks to ABSW board member Anita Makri for organising this ABSW panel discussion.