World Federation of
Science Journalists


International Candidate / WFSJ Board Election 2015

Question the candidate directly by email

Look for advances in science with original angles; dig deeper precooked stories provided by communication agents; handle facts with objectivity; bear in mind to work primarly not for myself but my readers. These are the principles I apply in my science journalist job.

I have been praticing it for 15 years, mostly at the daily Le Temps. First alone, I built in 2009 a Science section (4 people, 10 freelancers). Working there part-time, I also had my articles published in
Le Monde (France), Le Soir (Belgium), La Recherche (France), NewScientist (UK).

This led me to be awarded journalism prizes, moderate numerous debates or teach science journalism at universities/national schools; I wrote a booklet on the techniques of science journalism. Those activities helped launch a virtuous circle underlining the importance of science journalism in the french speaking part of Switzerland.

I got involved in 2004 in the Swiss Association of Science Journalism (SASJ). I am its president since 2012, made it a new WFSJ member in 2013. My efforts to enlarge the SASJ (like including generalist journalists dealing sometimes with science issues) has made it an active and financially robust community. A usefull link to our members is the weekly newsletter I produce, containing jobs, workshops, grants, trips. SASJ is also supporting freelancers with grants up to 5000$, and organising press trips (like in 2014 inside the new Gothard tunnel, attended by 50 european colleagues).

Along the years, I could build a strong network in the worldwide journalism community (I am also a Ski Club international des journalistes member), which the WFSJ could benefit of. Sharing informations with colleagues abroad is to me an important way to give value to this network; if elected, I would encourage and broaden this way of working.

In a media world in which communication officers are more prominents, I see my principle task as to promote an independant, critical and objective journalism, which is the only but necessary basis to a valid democratic debate about science issues, anywhere in the world. I imagine fostering this inside WFSJ by:
- developping networks amongst associations with multilateral projects (we are alreaday doing so at SASJ with African institutions)
- creating MOOCs on science journalism
- reinventing capacity building initiatives, like SjCOOP (I helped former WFSJ Executive Director JM Fleury to look for funding in Switzerland)
- developping multimedia projects using new web tools
- organising unique opportunities to practice science journalism (like the 2008 WFSJ Amundsen competition, of which I was one of the 15 participants, see picture)
- putting in place workshops, local or global.

If elected, I will take part in defining the new role of WFSJ in the organisation of WCSJs, having covered this event in London and Helsinki. Making the best of my international contacts, I wish to make the WCSJ not only a major event for knowledge sharing in science journalism worldwide, but the catalysator for longer-term projects serving each WFSJ member.

For all these activities at the WFSJ, I am ready to use my spare part-time besides my daily job.

Olivier Dessibourg
Swiss Association of Science Journalism

Read Mr. Dessibourg's CV and support letters