World Federation of
Science Journalists

The spark plugs

September 22, 2008 posted in Associations
A year ago, with the Southern Hemisphere spring on the way, 11 reporters in Buenos Aires got together in a café to talk about reporting science and ended up forming Red Argentina de periodismo científico, the Argentine Network of Science Journalism.

That first meeting was at Las Violetas, a typical porteño café of Buenos Aires. They moved on to another spot until the meetings got too large for the owner and now they’re at the Almagro, “old and nice,” says Valeria Román, of their meeting place in a city famous for its cafés.

Argentine science journalists after a day of discussions focused on networking efforts by colleagues in other countries. From left to right are Irene Wais, Matías Loewy, Ricardo Gómez Vecchio, Carla Nowak, Cristina Gozzi, Paola Avena, Luciana Dalmaso, Laura García Oviedo, Alejandra Sofía, Leonardo Moledo, Valeria Román, Marcelo Rodríguez, Alejandro Manrique and Ricardo Golderberg.

Román was one of this group that got together charged up by the enthusiasm from the World Conference of Science Journalism in Australia in 2007 and a weeklong workshop in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia soon after.

Founders of the Argentine network

Mariana Carbajal
Bruno Geller
Matías Loewy
Claudia Mazzeo
Carla Nowak
Laura García Oviedo
Carmelo Polino,
Valeria Román
Ana María Vara
Ricardo Gómez Vecchio
Gabriela Vizental

Now, just a year later, those in Buenos Aires still meet monthly at the Almagro and keep in touch with those in their network – from newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, new media, and media relations staff at universities – via a Google group.

“We are sharing information on courses, stories, files about how to cover HIV, telephone numbers for sources, such as an expert on bioethics,” Román says.

The network has already staged two daylong conferences. The first in April 2008 discussed conflicts of interest in their field, took a look at education possibilities for science journalists, and went into the practicalities of covering scientific controversies. Then about 20 of them met in September to look at how science journalists associations are organized in the United States and Germany, and the networking efforts of science journalists in China and the Arab world.

“We wanted to use the experience of our colleagues in other countries,” says Román, who reports on science at the Clarín newspaper in Buenos Aires, a daily with a circulation of about half a million.

“I had talked with colleagues and friends from those organizations in Barcelona [when WFSJ board members gathered during the European Science Forum in July 2008], and I wanted to tell what other people are doing in other countries to my colleagues at the network,” Román says.

“We want to keep a horizontal and democratic network. We are exploring how to improve our exchange with members who live in other Argentine cities.”

Along educational lines, about Argentine 25 reporters and editors, mostly from print media, are scheduled to attend a seminar on science journalism in Córdoba in October. The provincial Córdoban Ministry of Education is providing travel grants for those who come from other cities.

On their own hook, Román’s colleagues developed a workshop on new tools to use the Web effectively. Their teacher is Alejandro Tortolini, a freelance reporter and a computer professional, who started helping his colleagues learn Web 2.0 tools in August 2008.

“He is very generous with us,” says Román, and very much connected with the IT field, with recent articles in the Buenos Aires weekly Perfil on Ray Kurzweil and another on laptops of the future.


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