World Conference of Science Journalists,1-4 July 2019, Switzerland


May 31, 2018


Event Date:

July 01, 2019 - July 04, 2019

Opportunity Cover Image - World Conference of Science Journalists,1-4 July 2019, Switzerland

World Conference of Science Journalists

The next edition of the World Conference of Science Journalists will take place from 1 to 4 July 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. This biannual conference is an important opportunity for journalists covering science to come together as a community of professionals sharing many values and goals, despite the great diversity of the profession – and of course to build and sustain this community.

Science journalists face many challenges: garnering attention for our stories from editors and audiences; mastering complex tools, both conceptual and practical; seeking elusive truths from sources promoting their own agendas... To rise to these challenges, we need to learn from each other. In Lausanne,  journalists will have the opportunity to share and discuss experiences, best practice, and smart ideas, so that our profession becomes stronger.

With this in mind, the WCSJ2019 Programme Committee encourages science journalists from all over the world, or indeed anyone with an interest in improving the quality of science journalism, to make thoughtful session proposals that will help us build a rich, diverse, and timely conference that is relevant and useful for all of us.

What is being looked for? Sessions that will:

  • Explore topics and feature speakers relevant to investigative and critical science journalism. Our field may not have a strong tradition in investigative reporting, but it's a skill we need more than ever, now that science is increasingly influenced by private and political interests, and research misconduct has become an important topic. We would like WCSJ to highlight important and inspiring investigative work.
  • Provide space for topics and speakers from the global south. A vibrant science journalism community is growing in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, with specific interests and challenges. We want its voices to be heard in Lausanne.
  • Use innovative formats. There are many ways to enable genuine participation and learning beyond traditional panel formats. Here are some examples to inspire you, but we’re open to other suggestions too:
  1. The moving debate in which neither debaters nor audience are seated, and participants are invited to move towards or away from the debaters as their opinions evolve;
  2. Challenge sessions - collective brainstorms organised around a challenge for journalism, for example, how journalists can avoid reporting flawed news, with recommendations being summed up in a plenary;
  3. House-of-commons debates that mimic the British parliament, the chair encourages all participants to join in and express strong and vocal opinions.

For more inspiration, check out lightning talks, fishbowl sessions, pitching contests, Oxford-style debates, campfire sessions… Proposals that break free from the tradition of four speakers, a moderator, and a few questions at the end are looked for.

  • Offer hands-on learning opportunities. Many colleagues want to go home after a conference equipped with fresh or improved practical skills. Space will be made to meet that need at the conference.
  • Connect people. WCSJ brings together more than a thousand people from around the globe, but experience shows that participants often end up talking to mostly to friends and colleagues they already knew. 
  • Showcase important science. WCSJ is primarily a venue to reflect on our profession and learn new reporting tools, but many reporters like to go home with a good story as well. We are looking for a few sessions that bring the audience up to speed in a cutting-edge field or allow them to meet interesting scientists.

When proposing a session, please pay attention to the balance of gender and background of speakers, and make sure session proposals are internationally relevant. Take a positive outlook, and don't focus on the harshness of the times in which we live; we need your solutions!

The Programme Committee encourages proposals on the themes below, which have been identified as important for the profession. However, any good idea is warmly welcome, even outside these categories.

  • Engaging with, understanding and earning the trust of our audiences using social media and other tools.
  • The journalist and the freelancer as entrepreneur: new structures and business models, branding and repurposing stories.
  • New journalism tools, new story forms, new media platforms.
  • Pseudoscience, religious conservatism; finding fresh responses to old challenges.
  • Censorship, authoritarianism, attacks on journalists, and fake news – what is happening and how do we respond?
  • Ethics of science and journalism: conflicts of interest in science, misconduct, the reproducibility crisis, protecting our own independence – how to remain vigilant.
  • Food production, water management, and other vital and under covered issues.
  • Global health: Infectious diseases, pandemics, vaccines, antibiotic resistance… germs and how to cover them!
  • Artificial intelligence, genome editing, neuroscience – the breakthroughs, the hype, the risks.

Who can submit a proposal?

Anyone with an interest in improving the quality of science journalism can submit a proposal, either in English or French, as the conference will have a small French-speaking track of one or two sessions per day. A typical session lasts 70 minutes and can take a variety of formats (see above) according to its content. Please bear in mind that proposing a session means agreeing to be the session “producer”, and therefore volunteering your time and energy to organize it. A producer can also act as moderator or speaker but this is not necessary.

What should be in your proposal?

You can submit a proposal using Submittable. No other submission channel will be accepted. You will need to have the following information ready:

  • Names, affiliations, and contact info of the producer(s);
  • A summary (600 words maximum) of what the session is about and what the audience will learn;
  • The format you intend to use;
  • The names and affiliations of proposed speakers, moderators, trainers, et cetera.

What will happen after you submit your proposal?

The Programme Committee will evaluate the proposals and discuss them on 9 July 2018 in Toulouse, France after the European Conference of Science Journalists.  You will be informed by 1 September 2018 whether your proposal has been accepted or rejected. The Programme Committee may suggest changes in wording, focus, format, and speakers/moderator of a session to ensure quality, focus, and diversity. Producers should commit to accepting those changes and implementing them by 1 October 2018.

Travel and Accommodation

Session producers are strongly encouraged to find independent funding to cover travel and accommodation costs for themselves and their moderators and speakers (note: the conference fee, covering the whole program plus all social events, will be waived). In cases where such funding, fully or partially, cannot be secured, WCSJ2019 will cover travel and accommodation expenses (within the limits of its travel policy) for two to three nights in Lausanne for one producer as well as up to a maximum of 4 participants in the session. Once a session is accepted, specific funding needs will be discussed with the organizers.

The Programme Committee thanks you in advance for putting your energy, thoughts and creativity into writing a high-quality proposal, and wishes all submitters the best of luck. 

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Publish Date
May 23, 2018
Link To Original