As part of its ongoing commitment to engaging with those interested in its work, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has taken part in the 8th World Conference of Science Journalists in Helsinki, Finland.
As well as providing an opportunity to attend the many informative plenary sessions, the event presented a unique chance to engage with science journalists from across the globe on the huge range of issues confronting media and communication specialists in the second decade of the 21st century.
EFSA discussed the challenges facing journalists operating in a modern media environment at a working lunch entitled ‘Communicating Science in an Information Democracy’.
Laura Smillie, EFSA Senior Communications Adviser, opened the informal event by framing the discussion to around 40 invited science journalists from three continents. Over the past decade access to information has been transformed and more data is available than ever before. But are we really better informed, she asked.
Issues covered during the lively and insightful discussion that followed included: considering the communication obligations of a publicly-funded science-based organisation such as EFSA; debating the role of science journalism in this context; and how a better understanding of science can benefit consumers. Two other themes debated were bridging the gap between science and a general audience, and the investigative role of science journalists.
EFSA will reflect on how feedback from this fruitful debate can help inform its future approach to communications.
The lunch also provided a welcome opportunity to further increase awareness of the nature and importance of EFSA’s role in EU food safety system to journalists working both inside and outside Europe. Communicating on the findings of EFSA’s risk assessments is a vital element of the Authority’s work and one enshrined in its founding mandate. EFSA’s scientific work and its efforts to communicate on this in an open and transparent way have contributed to the protection of European consumers.