Scientific journalism and scientific disclosure

Do you know the difference among scientific disclosure and scientific journalism? An earlier analysis may suggest equality between both activities, but, actually, there are differences. Scientific journalism are interested in spread information as demonstrated in the study published in Ciência Hoje. You can see it in action while opening a website, read a newspaper or a magazine sheet talking about the latest discoveries in medicine, physics or biology, for instance.

Science journalism is undoubtedly a very important activity and apparently has obtained some recognition. In 2012 occurred the second edition of the National Symposium on Scientific Journalism at Rio de Janeiro. Since 1999 the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) developed the José Reis Program for Incentive Scientific Journalism and recognizes that:

The strengthening of the science and technology of a country requires adequate and systematic dissemination by any means of communication, the results of research activities carried out therein.

We are experiencing an era of almost unrestricted access to the Internet. This is not bad, but generates a huge volume of information and makes arduous to apply filters that lead the public to reliable informations. Although the journal Ciência Hoje point that journalists in Latin America has plenty of enthusiasm for the profession, FAPESP still see a lack of motivation and training as serious problems in Brazil.

About 80% of them (Latin American journalists) do not think that science journalism is in crisis, 91% recommend the profession and 98% see themselves working in the area over the next five years (Ciência Hoje).

In general, Brazilian society has not shown a significant interest in the course and the products of science. Particularly striking is the level of ignorance about the research activities developed in Brazil. This is due, in large part, to the lack of specific journalists with motivation and proper training in the field of science journalism (FAPESP).

That said, it is clear that scientific journalism informs the population about developments of science, in a manner suitable or not. Can we say that scientific journalism makes scientific disclosure? the answer is, yes. But we must look for a something more, that permeates the spirit of scientific dissemination. What is this something else that differentiates the “scientific disclosure” and “scientific journalism”?

Among the most popular science communicators are, undoubtedly, the astronomer Carl Sagan and the naturalist David Attenborough. Sagan wrote many amazing books and was active in the media to disseminate science. Especially, I want to take your attention to the TV series Cosmos: A personal voyager (1980) narrated and co-written by Sagan. In the series, Sagan does not talk about the latest discoveries, if not how some curiosity to support any more central idea. Attenborough wrote and presented the BBC series The Life. The main idea of ​​this kind of series is to show the origins of the universe and life as we understand the nature and why things are as they are and not otherwise.

Sagan and Attenborough were more interested in making sure that the public assimilated the scientific culture. In this conception, make scientific disclosure is beyond the inform results. Scientific disclosure becomes a way of familiarizing the public with the scientific procedure, thus put a little bit of what is being a scientist in the imagination of each person. There are numerous scientists engaged in the task of scientific disclosure worldwide: Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking and many others.

In Brazil, there is scientific journalism, whether or not it is suitable sounds like another question. As for the scientific disclosure, physicist Marcelo Gleiser is very committed to the task. However, our scientists still neglect the importance of the activity.


Sofia Moutinho. Perfil em construção. Ciência Hoje On-line, Notícias 06/02/2013.
FAPESP. Jornalismo científico. Mídia Ciência.

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This work by Alison Felipe Alencar Chaves is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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