The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 ushered in a new era in which “alternative facts” and attacks on journalism and science sow doubt and confusion among the general public. Traditional journalism is bypassed by politicians on Twitter, fomenting denial and distrust of scientific evidence on human-caused climate change, environmental problems, and public health that undercuts science-based decision making. Rapid government transformation is underway, research dollars are threatened, and science activists have marched to protest administration policies. So, we ask, whose job is it to build public trust in science in the Trump era, and how can science communication be improved?
Get ready for a debate, Oxford-style. Two teams of two will debate the motion: "Resolved: Science writers are responsible for building public trust in science."
One team will argue in favor of the motion and the other against it. Give your vote at the start, ask questions during audience Q&A and live on Twitter, then see if the debaters can sway your view. Who will you side with when arguments are done? The debaters will explore the roles of science journalists for independent news media; institutional science writers and public information officers; scientists who become writers; and the scientific community itself. Things inevitably get messier when science, policy and politics mix, or scientific findings are hyped or denigrated by parties with varying motives.
Through this thought-provoking exercise, learn from the lessons of seasoned experts and reporters. Get tips for engaging in accurate and fair coverage of controversies in science, health, environment, climate, and technology. Gain insights for digging deeper into unannounced or hidden policy changes or finding human-interest stories to make them come to life. And explore how public trust gets built or torn down, especially in the Trump era. What better place to debate than in the nation's capital?
Social media hashtag: #scidebate
- Saturday, October 13th, 8:30 am to 9:45 amAdd to Calendar
- Lisner Auditorium
- Richard HarrisScience correspondent, NPR News, Washington, D.C.
- Louise LiefIndependent consultant, freelance, Washington D.C.
- Nidhi SubbaramanScience reporter, Buzzfeed News, Washington D.C.
- Rick WeissSciLine/AAAS
- Cristine RussellScience journalist and senior fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Mass.
- Kelly April TyrrellSenior science writer, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.