Dr. R. Hemalatha and other panelists on the stage
The role of science journalists and communicators can be crucial in bringing science closer to the people. Experts emphasized this at a symposium on science journalism and communication held here on Friday.
While inaugurating the symposium, Dr. R. Hemalatha, Director, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) said “there are many research achievements of various scientific institutes in the country, which can be useful for industrial and societal applications. Science communicators should highlight the importance of such scientific efforts to people through their writing. Doing so can help policy makers to tackle problems along with increasing awareness about scientific research.”
“Future science journalists could be automated. Machine learning, deep learning and Artificial Intelligence are capable of transforming various branches of journalism, including science journalism. In journalism, content is crucial, not the person who writes it”, said Vasudeva Varma, an AI expert from Indian Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, while speaking on the future of science journalism.
Dr. Subbarao M.G. senior scientist at NIN, stated that “science writers should focus his attention on positive and negative aspects equally so that misconceptions in society can be busted. By maintaining a balance in science writing, one can maintain objectivity and avoid falling prey to any kind of agenda setting. ”
" Future science journalists could be automated. Machine learning, deep learning and Artificial Intelligence are capable of transforming various branches of journalism, including science journalism. In journalism, content is crucial, not the person who writes it "
Science communication in Indian languages is necessary to promote scientific temper at a broader level especially in a country like India where a large chunk of population lives in rural areas, speakers pointed out . Science journalist Gopal Krishna, associated with Sakshi, a Telugu newspaper, said that "effective science communication is not possible without Indian languages. Just translating from English to Hindi or any other language is not the perfect way of communicating science. It is easier to understand if scientific facts are presented in the media in lay person’s point of view rather than in technical jargon.”
“What do science and communication have in common? Clarity, accuracy and curiosity,” felt D.R. Mohan Raj, veteran science communicator and former professor of journalism. "Basic questions should be addressed in health reporting for making people aware. Journalists should pay attention to innovations related to health sector. Eventually, science journalists can help in the promotion of health awareness by eliminating the distance between scientists and people", says Dr. M. Maheshwar, scientist at NIN.
Concern was also expressed about the fake news. Sumit Narula, director of journalism and communication department at Amity University, Gwalior, said skilled science journalists can play an important role in dealing with the problem of fake news especially in health reporting. Chitti Panthulu Editor-in-chief, Veeoz Labs, said digital technologies are set change of face of traditional journalism.
Dr. Kollegala Sharma, a scientist at the Central Food Technology Research Institute, Mysore, emphasized that "a rapidly evolving technology like artificial intelligence can create greater digital divide. To reach the majority population of the country, only Indian languages have to be chosen. The role of the podcast may be important for the same.”
This symposium was jointly organized by Vigyan Prasar and NIN. It is an attempt to improve efforts related to popularizing science by journalists and writers. Science journalism landscape in the country is changing though a number of issues at institutional level are yet to be addressed in both media and scientific institutions said Dinesh C. Sharma, Managing Director of India Science Wire.
About 105 participants including researchers, students, professors of science and journalism participated in this seminar organized at the National Institute of Nutrition.
India Science Wire