EUSJA BOARD MID-TERM REPORT: by President Barbie Drillsma // 08-2013

Dear delegates, I gave an undertaking when I took office that I would regularly update you on what the board has been doing on your behalf.  As it is seven […]

BarbieDear delegates, I gave an undertaking when I took office that I would regularly update you on what the board has been doing on your behalf.  As it is seven months until our next GA I believe it useful to give you a brief mid-term report.

Our immediate goals were to raise EUSJA’s profile and to raise funds to enable more activities for members. This we are proud to have achieved. By the end of August our bank balance will be healthier by almost 70,000 euro. 

This money has been raised by Menelaos Sotirious through successfully applying, to have EUSJA involved in EU projects.  Jan-Oliver Loefken and Jesper Odde Madsen, as agreed at the last GA in Prague, have joined him as members of the Horizon 2020 working group.  Throughout these applications they have been aware of members’ initial fears that we were in danger of being used solely to disseminate material. And we are pleased to confirm this is not so.

The presentation in Helsinki on how EUSJA and science journalism could play a role in Horizon 2020, devised by Menelaos and facilitated by Wolfgang Goede, went down so well with Begona Arano, Head of Internal and External Communications in DG Research and Innovation, that a copy of the presentation was requested and is being used as a reference document and best practice for the next calls and work programmes under the HORIZON 2020. Other projects are in the pipeline.

A separate working group has been, in parallel, submitting proposals on Horizon 2020 and it is our intention to amalgamate and consolidate all efforts in this field and ask that a representative from this group joins Menelaos, Jesper and Jan-Olivier in the EUSJA working party looking at all EU projects.

Wolfgang has worked flat out organising the hugely appreciated training workshop at the World Conference and is developing it as a model for future meetings like ESOF. He is also continuing his work on science debates, an original initiative of Hajo Neubert – an aspect which was appreciated by the EU and is included in the majority of our proposals submitted for funding. Check out http://www.eusja.org/rollout-science-debate

Viola Egikova has been beavering away at running our study trip schedule – a packed programme that is being so well supported.  It is not easy to first of all generate these trips, organise the calls and ensure they work.  She must be applauded for the concentration she applies. Her Helsinki session based on science journalism in totalitarian counties involving Istvan Palugyai, Blanka Jergovic, Marina Huzvaova and Alexandru Mironov has received a large post bag with requests that this topic is continued in future debates.

Our newest board member, Priit Ennet in addition to organizing a great international study trip in Estonia, has been busy managing the extra work involved in handling the extra money EUSJA is receiving and ensuring these funds will be used solely for delegates and their members.

I have been standing over the board with a whip, hassling and reminding everybody that being a board member is a team responsibility; we are not after personal glory and empowerment, holding our position to improve our own image, we speak collectively. I have also represented EUSJA at international conferences, chairing and moderating sessions and hosting a science café.  Again this is an initiative generated by Menelaos at no cost to EUSJA, but which has yielded benefits to us through new contacts.

We now find ourselves in a position to offer, at some time in the near future, job opportunities/freelance work – to our members.  For example, we have the funds available to be used to create a more professional communications strategy. His busy schedule notwithstanding, Fabio Turone currently posts messages for us, despite all delegates having been shown how to do it themselves! We envisage we would need six people to play a role in the projects for which we have gained funding.

More information will be distributed before our GA, but we suggest you consult your membership, particularly about looking for a person who could be our paid communication manager, handling all relevant social networks and working on more scientific sites to regularly communicate what we are doing and to continue to get EUSJA’s name more widely known. These proposals will be finalised at our next board meeting in Gastein in October, after our two co-opted board members are consulted and the subject discussed more fully.

Briefly again.  We are proceeding with the pioneering work by Jop de Vries with plans for an international Investigative Science Writing Award. We are working on training workshops and on sessions for ESOF. We are also looking at how we can accommodate the new blood of a collective of Balkan journalists and continue to seek new member countries to welcome to EUSJA.

If any of you have any comments, concerns, suggestions for us to discuss at Gastein please send them to me. Again, we are here to represent all EUSJA members via delegates so we urge you to communicate with your membership and get back to me.

With best wishes, 
Barbie Drillsma

About Wolfgang C. Goede

Wolfgang C. Goede is a science journalist based in Munich, Germany. He is a board member of the German Association of Science Writers TELI.