Scientists to Harper: End censorship -- February 17
The Canadian Science Writers' Association (CSWA) and the Association des Communicateurs Scientifiques du Québec (ACS) will hold a joint symposium on Friday, February 17, at the AAAS annual meeting in Vancouver entitled Unmuzzling Government Scientists: How to Re-open the Discourse.
Across Canada, journalists are being denied timely access to publicly funded scientists. The research community itself is frustrated with the way government scientists are being muzzled. The result of the increased government control is that federal scientists are less present in media coverage of research and public discussion about important scientific issues.
In 2008, Environment Canada instructed its scientists to refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers and strategists decide whether scientists can respond to interview requests and help them craft « approved media lines ». Stories written for the CBC, Postmedia News, the journal Nature and others have revealed how these communication restrictions have spread to other government departments. The situation is somewhat similar in the United States. A recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review details how restrictive practices established by George W. Bush's administration still hold under the current government.
This 90-minute panel discussion will be an opportunity to examine and better understand the friction between the media and the governments. Are the tightened communication strategies symptomatic of a worldwide trend in the public and private sectors? Are these tightened communication strategies in any way justified? How does obstruction in communication with scientists compromise science research and undermine democracy? And in the end, what can be done to improve the situation?
AAAS Annual meeting symposium (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
Friday, February 17, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM (PST)
Room 201 (VCC West Building)
The Association des Communicateurs Scientifiques du Québec (ACS) is a non-profit organization bringing together professionals and people with a passion for scientific communication. Its core mission is to increase the quality and the quantity of scientific information spread in french through Québec and to increase public awareness of the importance of the scientific culture. Visit: http://www.acs.qc.ca
The CSWA is a national non-profit alliance of professional science communicators in all media. Its mission is to increase public awareness of science and technology in Canadian culture and to cultivate excellence in Canadian science writing and journalism. Visit: http://sciencewriters.ca