The consortium will fund journalists, at different stages of their careers, to train and learn about highly innovative fields of research that are hardly known to the lay public.
The Studies Center on Science, Communication and Society (CCS) of the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences (MELIS) at Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) is part of the consortium that has been selected to receive 1.5 million euros from the European Research Council (ERC) to implement a program of residencies for science journalists in research institutions across Europe.
The project, entitled FRONTIERS, will run from 2023 to 2027 and aims to promote journalistic independence and the coverage of frontier research topics , such as those typically supported by the ERC. Besides the residency program itself, the project will also develop , together with the relevant stakeholders and with the support of a multidisciplinary Advisory Board, a set of ethics principles, best practices and guidelines for journalistic fellowships in research institutions.
FRONTIERS will support the fellows and the hosting institutions with a centralized help desk, provide training for both the fellow journalists and the researchers of the hosting institutions, and will develop a long term sustainability model as a project legacy.
"To participate in this programme, journalists will have to submit an application for a three-to-five-month residency at an European research institution carrying out frontier research", explains Gema Revuelta , director of the CCS-UPF. "The idea for the journalistic project must come exclusively from the journalist and the consortium will provide the financial conditions for its execution".
During the implementation period of FRONTIERS, three application phases will be announced at the European level and journalists with different levels of experience, from young to experienced, will be able to apply. Proposals will be evaluated by the consortium, and the winners will then sign a full dedication agreement to the residency at the host institution. A total of 30-40 journalist residencies will be funded under the project.
Research institutions from any area of knowledge will be invited to express their interest in hosting journalists and creating the necessary conditions for the residencies. One of the objectives of this initiative, which includes a training program on independent and ethically responsible science coverage, is also to promote mutual learning between scientists and journalists.
"Journalists’ proposals may involve different journalistic genres, or even book projects, that cover frontier research topics", clarifies Carolina Llorente , researcher at CCS-UPF. "Throughout the project, we also expect to raise awareness of wider audiences, including policy makers, about the importance of frontier research and the benefits of independent science journalism in Europe".
Quality journalism is necessary to safeguard democracy, which is our collective responsibility.
Maria Leptin , ERC President, said: "Quality journalism is necessary to safeguard democracy, which is our collective responsibility. All institutions and bodies should contribute, and the ERC is certainly no exception. I hope we can send a strong signal to the research and media communities - and beyond."
The call aspirates to foster communication of highly innovative research fields, hardly disseminated among the lay public, like frontier and basic research. The CCS will be responsible for the training and networking activities addressed to junior and senior journalists to provide them tools to understand and spread scientific knowledge effectively.
The collaborative and interactive training among scientists and journalists will help researchers to better understand science journalism and the needs of the journalists.
"The training will allow the FRONTIERS resident journalists to learn more about frontier science research and how institutions work first hand and in a stimulating environment. Moreover, the collaborative and interactive training among scientists and journalists will help researchers to better understand science journalism and the needs of the journalists", explains Gema Revuelta.
"From this experience, tested training materials will be published in open access with support guidelines to help the training program implementation in other institutions.", adds Carolina Llorente.
The FRONTIERS consortium includes the Pompeu Fabra University (Spain), the NOVA University of Lisbon (Portugal), the Center for Ethics in Science and Journalism (Italy) and the SME Enspire Science (Israel), which coordinates the project.
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