Global health — from countering misinformation to managing crises — was the focus of our fifth science reporting workshop, held in July 2018. Co-hosted with our sister institute UNU-IIGH in Malaysia, the guiding theme was simple: that ‘you don’t win hearts and minds with science and facts. You win hearts and minds with relationships and trust.’
For this two-day workshop our challenge was to turn these fine words from the Union of Concerned Scientists into effective practice, via round after round of group presentations. The aim was to build consensus and capacity through open yet guided debate, followed by co-creation of infographics. The result? See the session summaries, twitter feed, and multimedia below — and draw your own conclusions!
For trust and the truth
What institutions and professions do people trust worldwide? What are the major trends? What are the feedback loops (if any) between research, media reports, opinion polls, and policymaking? This session focused on scientific consensus, scepticism and denial, before weighing up ‘balanced’ media reporting and populist cherry picking, e.g. on vaccine safety.
Audit your audience
Why do we do what we do? Who or what are we working for, either as researchers or communicators? What are we trying to project: benevolence, expertise, integrity, or something else entirely? This session investigated classical and modern methods of persuasion, including the supposedly privileged role of medical scientists.
Pitching the pyramid
Why should we tailor content for different target audiences? How can we best distil research: into blogs and articles for the general public and briefs for policymakers? This session looked into global health broadcasting and ‘narrowcasting’, drawing on good practice case studies from across UNU.
Share to be seen
How to see, act and engage from another perspective? This was an exercise in crisis management, built around a press conference role reversal — whereby researchers played journalists and vice versa.
Easy on the eye
How to make beautiful, engaging stories from cold, hard statistics? Why do complex data need compelling stories (and enthusiastic storytellers). This session focusd on UN issues: from environment to health, including the tracking of long-term trends.
Data storytelling: Hands on
How to choose the right chart for different content? How to take back control of data and narratives? Led by a local trainer from Piktochart, this was an exercise in visual synthesis based on a World Health Organization Factsheet on the Zika virus.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
UNU / Daniel Powell and Howard Hudson; DFID / Lucy Milmo