Amid the many challenges of the ‘post-truth era’, this series champions the best of research-based storytelling — above all for policymaking and media reporting. In doing so, it aims to build capacity and networks between scientists, journalists and policymakers, particularly in emerging economies.
UNU-MERIT has so far delivered six workshops for around 300 participants in Latin America, West Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Recent partners include UNESCO, various UN Information Centres (UNIC), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), plus sister institutes in Germany (UNU-EHS), Ghana (UNU-INRA), and Malaysia (UNU-IIGH).
Why ‘Reach and Turn’? Because we aim to inform, persuade and even change mindsets — as shown in our institutional trailer. To this end, our workshops have featured a BBC presenter who spoke about science literacy, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who focused on data storytelling, and a Dutch ambassador (and Maastricht University alumnus) who covered ‘Twiplomacy’ and social media. Our workshops have also featured hands-on training with infographics, reverse press conferences, and a series of ‘hackathons’.
We are now busy planning our next workshops for 2019: first Bolivia in May, in partnership with UNESCO, the UN Information Centre, and the Bolivian Ministry of Education; then Uruguay in September, in partnership with the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science.
‘Now more than ever we need scientists… as a counterweight to people who spread fake news.’
Dirk Janssen, Dutch Ambassador to Panama
‘This workshop is very important because it allows us to fulfill our joint mandate to ensure that science, technology and innovation are working in the service of our communities and our peoples, and because it ensures there is interaction between science and the community… It is an opportunity to start a dialogue.’
Dr. Lidia Brito, UNESCO Regional Director of Science for Latin America and the Caribbean
‘It’s really broadened my horizons and I think I’ve become a better journalist… The format has been amazing. These researchers are nigh on impossible to reach and to have a plethora of them that I can actually talk to has been wonderful!’
Ekow Dontoh, Bloomberg News, Ghana
‘I saw that journalists are much more interested in science than I thought… This platform has given us the opportunity to partner and ensure that our work has a better reach.’
Henrietta Asiedu, Conservation Alliance, Ghana
‘Scientists and journalists serve very different audiences and work to very different deadlines. Yet, if the two sides can understand and trust one another, they can truly serve the public interest.’
Netta Ahituv, Senior Correspondent & Editor, Haaretz News, Israel
‘The workshop has been fantastic for me …[it] has given me confidence in terms of my own abilities in what I can achieve and how I can communicate my work better and more effectively.’
Dr. Nicola Pocock, UNU-IIGH, Malaysia
‘The research we do, particularly in global health, has to be communicated. It is absolutely of no value to anyone if it reamins with the researchers.’
Prof. Pascale Allotey, Director, UNU-IIGH, Malaysia
‘I have learned the way journalists think, which is very different from us researchers… This has been a life-changing experience for me because I have learned a lot of new things.’
Sara Rosero, Institute of Scientific Research and High Technology Services (INDICASAT), Panama
‘I look at the way the course was delivered and it was brilliant…To be able to put all these actors together and think of a common purpose and be able to deliver a concise message was amazing. We need to replicate this.’
Gladys Bernett, University of South Florida