Last and First Dance

The winners (c) Goede
The winners (c) Goede

Day 4 and end of WCSJ 2015 Seoul. Last sessions with dwindling attendance, while the General Assembly of the World Federation got under way. Final act: The closing ceremony with a little Oscar taste and the announcement of the WCSJ 2017 venue, hot contest between Europe and the US.

The GA was off to a good start: More than 50 percent of the member organization attended the  annual meeting at the COEX convention center near Hangang river. Federation executive director Damien Chalaud presented achievements during the past two years:

World Federation Executive Director (c) Goede
World Federation Executive Director (c) Goede

+++ 51 member organizations representing 9000 science journalists+++15 new national associations acquired+++45 mentors taught+++ 140 journalists trained in 50 countries+++3 online courses on Science Journalism, Ebola, Viral Hepatitis+++8 global conferences organized

“Respect each other!”

The challenge according to Damien: to further diversify the projects with more training units adapted to many different regions and local requirements. The training program SjCOOP, a long-term approach which had been very successfully applied to the needs of Africa and Arabic countries, in the final round implemented in Southeast Asia, will be phased out sooner or later. Charity organizations in Canada will be targeted as new funding sources.

Salmiak for the incoming board members (c) Goede
Outgoing: Kathryn O’Hara (left), Vesa Niinikangas (center), Pallava Bagla (right)  (c) Goede

Vesa Niinikangas, past president and outgoing board member, “happily passed on the burden to three incoming board members”, as he jokingly remarked. Then he became serious. His advice:

+++Respect each other and listen to each other+++Read immediately the bylaws and mission statement and repeat this exercise periodically+++Pay attention to RELEVANT details+++Express you opinion, but don’t keep talking all the time+++You are the directors and decision makers+++In the public sphere you ALWAYS speak with 1 voice+++You turn to change the world, but have a history to be proud of

“Make people unhappy!”

Vesa gave away Finnish chewing gum to the outgoing officer. The incoming received Finnish salmiac pills, “very bitter ones”, as he stressed with his northern humour.

Bitter pills for successors (c) Goede
Bitter pills for successors (c) Goede

A different tack took Pallava Bagla, who had “brought the flavours of India” into the board, as he said and added, smilingly: “I look back at a four year rollercoaster ride.” His piece of advice. Journalists are not to make people happy, but unhappy. “If everybody is unhappy, you are ready to enter nirvana”, Pallava expects. The discussion about better communication, more transparency, and the journalistic designation should be kept in the loop. “If you don’t know it, whom else do you expect to find answers?”

Jens Degett announces European Conference (c) Goede
Jens Degett announces European Conference (c) Goede

At the end, Jens Degett, the Danish delegate and organizer of the 2nd European Conference of Science Journalists in November in Budapest, announced the event and passed out invitations.001

“If you are going to San Francisco …”

In the closing ceremony, the winners of the contest took the floor. Ron Winslow and Cristine Russell, former presidents of the National Association of Science Writers NASW went on stage. The next world conference will be held in San Francisco. For 2017 they promised a powerful scientific and  journalistic program.

Presidents: incoming Curtis Brainard (center), outgoing Dr. Chul Joong Kim (left), past Vesa Niininkangas (right) (c) Goede
Presidents: incoming Curtis Brainard (center), outgoing Dr. Chul Joong Kim (left), past Vesa Niininkangas (right) (c) Goede

The speakers honored that Copenhagen had submitted a strong proposal and with both cities in the contest science journalism had won. The Bay Area offered the chance to reach out to the South and include Latin America.  Scott McKenzie’s famous “If you’re going to San Francisco you should wear some flowers in your hair” was played and the US American delegation started to dance.

“Narrow the gap of conflict!”

After the new president of the World Federation, Curtis Brainard, had introduced himself, the organizers and hosts of the Seoul conference said good-bye, Dr. Chul Joong Kim and Shim Jae-oek. Shim found very kind words, as warm as the hospitality visitors had found in Korea’s capital.

Shim Jae-eok--the deep one (in translation) and hearty (c) Goede
Shim Jae-eok–the deep one (in translation) and hearty (c) Goede

“We motivated you to expand your horizon”, Shim said, picking up on the conference motto. With this new knowledge please contribute “to narrow the gap of discrimination and conflict in the world”, the president of the Korean Science Journalists Association continued. “I was fueled by your energy and you expanded my own horizon”, before he finished:

WCSJ Seoul #4 021“See you in San Francisco.”



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