World’s science journalists are coming to Berkeley in 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — Heralded by the hippie anthem “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” leaders from the World Federation of Science Journalists named the City by the Bay as the site for its 2017 international meeting, to be co-hosted by UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.

Ron Winslow and Cris Russell

Ron Winslow and Cristine Russell thank the World Federation of Science Journalists for choosing San Francisco as the site of the 2017 international meeting. (Photo by Robert Sanders)

The announcement came Thursday (June 11) at the federation’s meeting in South Korea.

The federation is the world’s largest and most diverse group of journalists covering science, health and technology, with some 9,000 members and more than 50 affiliated associations, including groups from Somalia, Congo and Indonesia. It focuses on tutoring journalists in the skills needed to cover important news involving science and building the capacity of media professionals in many countries “to undertake engaging, incisive, accurate, impartial, high quality science journalism.”

The announcement came at the end of the biennial World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, where reporters told of their experiences reporting on Ebola in Africa, genetically modified foods in India, pollution in the United States and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea, where a current outbreak has infected 122 people and left nine dead. About 400 journalists attended the meeting, down from previous years because of the fear of MERS.

“We are thrilled and honored to be the host of the 10th international conference of science writers,” said Cristine Russell, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and one of the representatives of the two U.S. organizations – the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) – that will lead the 2017 meeting. “Our strong bid was the result of a wonderful team of colleagues and the help of representatives from two of the best research universities in the world, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.”

women with face masks

Some attendees of an international meeting of science journalists wore face masks because of the MERS outbreak in South Korea. (Nancy Shute photo)

The meeting in Seoul, which ended Friday, also included workshops on mining large sets of data for hidden stories, reporting on environmental issues using georeferenced maps, and incorporating video and podcasts into science articles.

“The meeting in Seoul (was) a fantastic opportunity for encouraging strong journalism, professional development and interesting science reporting,” said Russell, a veteran science journalist, recent past president of CASW and past president of NASW.

Journalists attended from about 40 different countries, ranging from Sierra Leone and Kenya to Vietnam and China, with a strong contingent from Copenhagen, which was also vying for the 2017 meeting.

The 2017 meeting will include presentations at UC Berkeley and UCSF, giving campus researchers an opportunity to showcase their discoveries to an international audience of science journalists and provide necessary background for reporting on breaking science news.

“We’ll have more than flowers in San Francisco,” promised one of the bid team leaders, Ron Winslow, the deputy bureau chief for health and science at the Wall Street Journal and a former president of NASW.