IDRC hosts the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada conference
Discussions about open data, dwindling budgets, and how-to tech sessions attracted a sold-out crowd to this year’s Science Writers and Communicators of Canada (SWCC) conference, hosted by IDRC at the Centre’s head office in Ottawa from September 13-16.
The People behind the Story, the theme of this year’s conference, explored the changing roles of journalists, communicators, scientists, artists, and knowledge mobilizers and translators, and how they can work together to promote scientific literacy and demonstrate the value of science.
IDRC President Jean Lebel welcomed the conference’s largest ever audience of more than 150 journalists and communicators. They came to explore emerging trends in social media, journalism, and communications, and to participate in panels and workshops focused on getting the most out of video, photography, and podcasts.
Marie Lambert-Chan, editor-in-chief of Québec Science, Scott Hannant, former executive producer and news director of CTV/CJOH in Ottawa, and Elizabeth Payne, an award-winning journalist who writes about health and science for the Ottawa Citizen, opened the conference with a discussion about the changing media environment and what PR specialists and communicators can do to help.
The panelists discussed dwindling budgets and the new norm of exploring alternative funding models for quality journalism. Although Canada’s Periodical Fund provides financial assistance to Canadian print magazines and non-daily newspapers to overcome market disadvantages, Lambert-Chan stressed that sponsored content — that above all does not compromise journalistic integrity — is needed for the survival of many small magazines and newspapers. “Editors are acting increasingly like entrepreneurs who have to look for business opportunities,” she said.
Conference attendees also had the opportunity to hear from an impressive panel about Canada’s Fundamental Science Review (the Naylor Report). Although the research community has embraced its recommendations, the report is receiving little attention beyond research circles. The Globe and Mail’s science reporter Ivan Semeniuk, Jeremy Kerr, a University Research Chair in macroecology and conservation biology at the University of Ottawa, and Martha Crago, McGill University’s vice-principal of research and innovation, discussed the challenges and opportunities of translating the report for various audiences.
Light-hearted learning and the potential to find the next big science story was at the heart of IDRC’s World Café. In the style of speed-dating, groups of conference-goers shuttled between eight IDRC experts to hear three-minute presentations about everything from using insects as the next sustainable source of animal feed to leveraging mobile technology to increase access to healthcare.
Networking opportunities and a good dose of fun were also on tap at evening and weekend social activities that included dinners, a board game lounge, and visits to Parliament, Canadian Space Services, and the Diefenbunker Museum.
For more information about sessions and speaker bios, please consult the conference program (PDF, 3.8KB).
Tickets for this year’s SWCC sold out in less than three weeks — avoid disappointment and check back regularly for SWCC’s 2018 conference, to be hosted in Vancouver.
During the IDRC World Café, IDRC Program Management Officer Laura Husak reveals how her research in Cambodia helps families increase their nutritional intake while also raising their income.
The Globe and Mail journalist Ivan Semeniuk explains his point of view about the findings of the Naylor report and the opportunities and challenges of translating it for various audiences.
CBC Senior Reporter Alison Crawford and Henry Siu, professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, discuss how digitization and automation changes labour relations and the very nature of work.