Why Science Journalism is necessary in Greece


The Science Journalism and Communication, the Rebranding Greece campaign , the Policy and the development have something in common: Science.
Unfortunately, the average of the Greeks aren’t informed enough about science and most of them don’t know exactly what science means.
The funded research and the produced knowledge are in a very low level. This of course is one of the main reasons for the “brain drain” in Greece. There is no doubt that there are great Greek scientists and researchers that make great careers and produce scientific knowledge outside the country.
On the other hand there is no science communication. In this country no one talks about science at schools and at universities and the media have underestimate the significant role that they could and should play by communicating science.
Science communications includes science exhibitions, journalism, Policy and media production. And at this point two problems arise:The first one concerns the big gap between science and journalism. The researchers and the scientists still don’t trust journalists and they prefer to communicate the results of their research by themselves. Sometimes or most of the times in a wrong way. That happens because they don’t know the right way to give science back to citizens and because there is lack of organized press offices at the universities or research centers to take up this competence.
The second problem refers to the fact that science journalism doesn’t exist in Greece. Everybody knows and writes about everything and this is a real problem. Although, some of the journalists happen to have a scientific background, the majority of them haven’t and they continue to write about science based to their experience.
The problem grows with the fact that in Greece there is only one official union of journalists, ESIEA and there isn’t a specific one for Science journalists. But the most worryingly is that there isn’t a specific course for Science Journalism and Communication even at the Department of Mass Media Communication at the University. In other words, this specific department “produces” journalists without specification, without knowledge of Science communication.
Having a professional experience for twenty years and by observing all this situation I tried last year to mobilize my colleagues to set a Greek Association of Science Journalist in order to be more organized and to build a strong bond as a union with EUSJA. The Greek Union ESIEA agreed with this plan and suggested that we should start it immediately. Having the official permission and in accordance with the fundamental rules of the Union, I invited 21 colleagues who understand and write about science in the media having also a scientific background. And this was not very easy. Eventually, after a little research I found them and I discussed with them by the phone (because no one spent some of his precious time to meet me personally) about the lack of scientific communication in Greece.
They all accepted my ideas and they agreed to set all together the science union.
But that was the start and the end of this project….
I should inform you that they all disappeared and I’m still waiting about their reaction, although, I know that all of them are looking (included myself also) for such a scientific union abroad because there isn’t an official one in Greece.
In my opinion the whole situation has a main political dimension, including political and ethical thinking. It may be hard to tell but I think that the plan is to keep people in the dark in order to manipulate them easier.
Science communication can aim to generate support for scientific research or study, to inform the public and the decision making, which can be regarded as the cognitive process resulting in the selection of a belief or a course of action among several alternative possibilities.
Every decision making process produces a final choice that may or may not prompt action and this exactly what the Politicians avoid.
That’s why I think that Science Communication is absolutely necessary in Greece.

About Vasiliki Michopoulou

Vaso Michopoulou has a degree in Biology from the School of Sciences, University of Athens, Greece a Master of Arts on Policy Management and International Politics from the Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, University of Peloponnese at Corinth, Greece and she is a PhD candidate in International Relations. She is a member of European Journalists (AEJ), European Journalism Center (EJC), Reporters without Borders (RSF), Balkan Association of Science Journalists (BASJ), Panhellenic Federation of Journalists (POESY), Athens Daily Newspapers Journalists Union (ESIEA), and Panhellenic Union of Bioscientists (PEV). She has a professional experience as a science journalist for nineteen years working in newspapers, magazines, television, radio and web media (television, e-newspapers and news blogs). Fifteen years of work experience at the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT, currently known as NERIT) as a chief editor for the News broadcast and reportage shows related to science and international politics (interviews, publication and editing, production of documentaries, free and social reportage, live broadcasts). Currently she works as a Press & Communication Officer of the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Society and of the Bioinformatics & Human Electrophysiology Lab of Ionian University, Corfu, Greece. She works also as free lance writer for daily newspapers, e-newspapers and science magazines, and organises science communication activities between scientists and the public (interviews with prominent scientists, conferences, science cafes). She has attended several conferences and seminars and she has made exclusive interviews from experts in several scientific fields (CERN physicists, European and Greek environmental scientists, EU Brain project neuroscientists, Max Planck Institute bioscientists etc.) for Greek media. She has participated in ecological field research projects, has translated scientific texts, and has participated in scientific publications and she has presented oral talks in several International and Greek conferences.