World Federation of
Science Journalists

Argentina's science journalists reach out beyond Buenos Aires

April 20, 2011 posted in Associations
A small group of Argentinian reporters who started meeting informally at Café Las Violetas in Buenos Aires four years ago have now grown into Red Argentina de Periodismo Científico, an organization that represents 95 per cent of the science journalists in that country.

The Argentine Network of Science Journalism (its English translation; “red” is Spanish for “network”) is awaiting formal registration by the Argentine government. It aims to build an association which can lessen the isolation faced by reporters outside Buenos Aires, the capital of what is a vast country. “We’re replacing isolation with online discussions daily,” according to Valeria Román, the group’s president.

One of the association’s “isolated” reporters is freelancer Laura Garcia Oviedo, based in Bariloche, in Argentina’s Rio Negro province. She hosts a weekly radio show called Palabras Sueltas (“Words on the Loose”) at Radio FM Bariloche and writes for SciDev.Net, with editors in Brazil and Chile handling her material.

Members of the newly formed Argentine Network of Science Journalism after their founding meeting last fall in a refurbished historic building in downtown Buenos Aires. Association president Valeria Román and vice president Matías Loewy are in the second row, extreme left.
photo credit: Alejandro Alonso

She says it’s “quite hard” to write science for a largely uninterested local media, but covers science on radio – along with politics, the environment, arts and music – with her colleague Vanina Wiman for national media in Buenos Aires. “It’s possible and it’s even really fun to cover science from Bariloche for media far away,” given the new connectiveness with her colleagues, Garcia says. Podcasts of Garcia-Wiman stories are at www.palabrassueltasfm.blogspot.com.

(San Carlos de Bariloche is not exactly a hardship posting. In the foothills of the Andes, it’s a picturesque city which attracts many visitors for skiing, water sports and hiking.)

Drawing upon active journalists from Argentina’s different provinces, Román says the hope is for “a new relationship between science journalists, with the values of solidarity and respect.

“We have organized several workshops – tobacco control, epidemics, climate change, energy, and the link between science and science fiction – among others.”

The new association has 57 science journalists, including 19 freelancers, 12 PR or
communications officers and four researchers and academics. They meet every month in Buenos Aires. Román says “some science journalists working in mainstream media could not get into” her country’s previous science journalism organization, “so in 2007 we decided to create an informal network,” the one that grew into today’s Red Argentina de Periodismo Científico.

Román says they want “to improve science journalism standards in Argentina,” and promote it to decision-makers “inside the media” themselves. The new group wants to “encourage critical thinking and social debate about scientific and technological problems,” as well as promoting peaceful uses of science and technology.

Some of its activities, even before being formally registered by Argentina’s federal government, have included workshops with scientists as speakers, seminars to discuss and debate their field in today’s world, and “online discussions to exchange information, sources and suggestions.”

As well, “We have been encouraging young journalists to get into science journalism,” Román says, and planning for the future.

“Our next activities will be a workshop on math for our members, and the presentation of our ‘best science stories of 2010’,” to be published online first at http://www.radpc.org/, then in print.

They elected their board of directors last fall. Besides Román, who works for Clarin, Argentina’s largest newspaper, vice president Matías Loewy is an editor and science reporter for Newsweek Argentina; treasurer Gabriela Navarra freelances for La Nación; secretary Federico Kukso freelances for Le Monde and Muy Interesante and the Argentine edition of Diplomatique magazine.

Between them, board members Gabriela Vizental, Oviedo and Maria Gabriel Ensinck report for Radio Continental, SciDev.Net, and La Nación and El Cronista newspapers.



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