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Creativity was abloom as about 1200 science journalists came together at the picturesque campus of the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) on the shores of Lake Geneva. It was the 11th edition of the World Conference of Science Journalists.

Perhaps the 50th year of the institution could not have been better celebrated, but the for the excited tribe of scribes, the venue  could not be more suited than the institute The time and venue could not have been better suited than EPFL an institution known for its global connections and large-scale research instruments.

Journalists from a huge range of countries deliberated on areas close to their heart like whether science journalism was a luxury or a necessity, how the media landscape was changing over the years, challenges that science journalist’s face in the global south and much more.

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Among the journalists participating from 83 countries India had a strong presence with 20 young science communicators participating from India. Sahana Ghosh from Mongabay India, a travel fellow participating in the World Congress of Science Journalists was elated at the opportunity it gave her to learn about and share best practices in journalism.  Raihana Maqbool, from Global Press Journal, India made the best out of ‘The Fuse workshop on artificial intelligence’.

The variety in countries, age groups and media were huge as also was the range of enriching discussions.

Josephine Okojie, a journalist working for Business Day newspaper in Nigeria learnt about new methods and tools of science journalism while for Abdul Rahaman Abotaleb from Yemen news News Agency, the trip to CERN organized by the conference was a dream come true.

For Robert Lea a freelancer from UK, the panel which brought together experts on space travel to discuss the future of space exploration, was interesting as it discussed challenges of ways to live and work on the moon and beyond.

The journalists discussed new ways to tell stories like podcasts, augmented reality and comics. There were energetic discussions, interesting plenaries and exciting keynotes on a range of topics, from CRISPR to climate change adaptation and biodiversity, and from corporate manipulation to the challenges faced by journalists in the global south.

The communicators debated on innovative methods of communicating like science through theatre and house of common debate for five stimulating days.

The section on science showcased latest developments in a range of fields from top scientists and journalists. The topics included the latest developments in the world of science like adaption to climate change, mental health, science, global health, biodiversity, deep seabed mining.

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The conference discussed science and its relation to society, debated new technologies CRISPR-Cas9,  gene-edited plants, animals, and people and meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Interesting sessions gave tips on how to create a podcast, gave a tour of online investigative resources, how to judge statistical results as a non-statistician, ways to build audience and keep them and also to get started with data visualization, ways to enhance story telling through augmented reality. It also featured the first ever global meet-up of LGBTQ science journalists.

The lighter side of science and journalism was brought out through science through comics, meeting with the heroes of Hollywood science movies and also science stories through theatre.

Professionals and students in science journalism and science writing from around the world participated to exchange ideas and skills, to build networks and to foster quality science journalism and collaboration on a global scale. It was five days of transformative exposure for the spirited young reporters who had come to attend the conference. Focusing on ‘reaching new heights in science journalism’ the co-ordinators of the conference, the World federation of Science Journalists chose 60 sessions after looking at Ideas from among 500 different sessions.

The collaborative spirit stood out in the conference in Lausanne as cultures and languages met, ideas were exchanged, and people of all backgrounds discussed, innovated and made plans for the future of science journalism.

Dr Archita Bhatta
Editor
DST Communication Cell
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