Science and Citizens
Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 18th February, 2011
After the young journalist Philip Geddes was killed by an IRA bomb at Harrod’s department store in 1983, an award scheme for aspirant journos was set up in his memory and in recent years there has been an annual lecture at his alma mater — and mine — St Edmund Hall, Oxford. Previous years have seen some of the most glittering names in political and foreign affairs journalism take the podium, but this evening the speaker was Philip Campbell, Editor in Chief of Nature, who covered a very different area of media when he gave a illustrated talk on ‘Scientists and Citizens: Help and Hindrance from New Media’. The main thrust of Dr Campbell’s argument was the way that the dissemination and discussion of scientific articles and papers has changed with the development of blogs, comments, twitter and more. He focussed particularly on two areas of great contention, namely climate change and vaccine scares, both issues that have generated heated scientific argument as well as political grandstanding from opposing positions. Many scientists are still reluctant to get involved in the new media, he said, but they are becoming increasingly important, as are online platforms for publication.