Atomium Culture’s official response to Jens Degett

We received this reply to the recent post on Atomium Culture
by the President of the Danish Association of Science Journalists Jens Degett
“Atomium Culture and The Role of the Media in Responsible Research and Innovation”

Brussels – 3 April 2013

OBJECT: Response to post by Jens Degett published on 24 March 2013

Dear Jens Degett,

The inquisitive and questioning nature of journalists is precisely one of the key qualities of the current press that need to persevere in order to ensure the development of Responsible Research and Innovation as the EISRI Summit in Dublin clearly pointed out.

However, on behalf of Atomium Culture I would like to correct some of the facts that you report in your blog that are in effect incorrect or not precise (in order of appearance):

1) The EISRI Summits are NOT events organised by the European Commission (nor was the Danish Science in Dialogue conference an EISRI Summit). EISRI stands for “European Intersectoral Summit on Research and Innovation” and is an event that Atomium Culture organises every 18 months to bring together leading representatives from academia, media, industry and policy makers to discuss a key issue relating to the relationship between science and society. For the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation decided to use this platform, working in particular with the institutions engaged in Atomium Culture in Ireland (Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Times) to develop the theme of “The Role of the Media in Responsible Research and Innovation”.

2) Atomium Culture is NOT a media organisation. Atomium Culture is a Brussels-based international non-profit organisation that brings together in its platform leading universities (http://atomiumculture.eu/node/33), media (http://atomiumculture.eu/node/92) and industry (http://atomiumculture.eu/node/43) to promote knowledge sharing and “out of the box” thinking on issues regarding the development of a European knowledge society; AC was launched publicly at the European Parliament by the leaders of the institutions engaged and by V. Giscard d’Estaing, currently Honorary President. The Board is chaired by Felipe Gonzalez and consists of the representatives of all sectors engaged (http://atomiumculture.eu/node/63).

3) The possible construction of an EU Science Media Centre is a possible project that Atomium Culture is assessing whether or not to promote. It was suggested as a positive project by the representatives of the organisations engaged in AC following the Expert Panel Discussion organised together with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in March 2012. At this meeting in Frankfurt, several external organisations were also present, representing different fields of science communication. Since then, AC has organised numerous meetings with the different stakeholders to assess how such an institution could benefit science communication in Europe. EUSJA has been invited and represented during some of these meetings.

4) Our Executive Director Erika Widegren was present at the Odense meeting upon invitation of the European Commission and Danish Ministry. Further, Ms Widegren was present at the ESOF Panel on Responsible Research and Innovation together with Mr Waldemar Kütt, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and Mr Uffe Toudal Pedersen, Permanent Secretary of the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education.

5) The conference topics, speaker list and material was prepared by the Conference Coordination Committee and the European Commission. The Conference Coordination Committee included representatives from Atomium Culture, the Irish Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Trinity College Dublin and The Irish Times.

6) Speakers at the conference included leaders and key representatives from academia, media, industry and policy makers (including the President of EUSJA Barbara Drillsma and President Emeritus Istvan Palugyai). The selection of speakers was done upon suggestion of all partners engaged in the conference and represented all different stakeholders and brought to the table the different perspectives of the debate. Full list of speakers can be found on http://eisri-summit.eu/programme-2/

7) The aims of the Summit are clearly defined as:
- Continue the conversation initiated during the “Science in Dialogue”, a Conference held during the Danish presidency to develop a European model for Responsible Research and Innovation;
- Explore the role of media in the European model for Responsible Research and Innovation;
- Facilitate the formation of professional networks, knowledge sharing, and exchange of best practices;
- Come up with concrete recommendations on what has to be done in the short term at a European level to reach the long term objectives of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth.

In addition to the above corrections, Atomium Culture would further like to clarify that it is not a media organisation involved directly in science communication. What Atomium Culture does is bring together academia, media and industry to assess some of the underlying issues and support the development of innovative projects that can benefit the organisations engaged in the platform.

AC is a strong proponent of the fact that “Europe already has excellent research universities, media organisations and industry”. AC works with the newspapers engaged in the platform, in particular with our Editorial Committee (composed of the chief science editors of Der Standard, El País, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Irish Times and Il Sole 24 Ore) to find new ways of collaboration to benefit all partners and in particular the relationship between science and society.

From the reaction of members of EUSJA during several of the meetings organised by Atomium Culture in 2012–2013 we understand that there is a clear concern by some of the members of EUSJA relating to some of the new projects that Atomium Culture is promoting—in particular, the development of an EU Science Media Centre.

We believe that these fears are unfounded and would welcome, as stated several times to members of EUSJA, to have an open and constructive discussion on these themes and to see how EUSJA could play a role in the development of this institution. The EU SMC would be developed to support journalists across Europe so the input of EUSJA is certainly very welcome. Fabio Turone has already voiced some of the concerns and Atomium Culture is doing its utmost to develop a project that reflects the different needs and concerns of ALL stakeholders. There is strong support for the development of an EU Science Media Centre by academic institutions, established media, industry, NGOs and policy makers, each of which sees the usefulness of such an institution.

Again, thank you for your comments and we hope that EUSJA and its members will welcome the suggestion for a concrete and direct discussion on these themes in the future.

Renato Tagliaferro
Director of External Relations
Atomium Culture

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