Follow the media in Sweden, and notice to what extent the media covers science. Not only by presenting scientific news, but also by using scientists for a commentary, a second opinion or a new angle. For five years the media service Expertanswer (Expertsvar in Swedish) has helped to facilitate contacts between scientists and reporters in Sweden. The service is expanding in Scandinavia, and other groups like politicians are knocking on the door, wanting the same kind of fast contact service. Expertanswer in Sweden, “Sök Xpertti” in Finland and a pilot in Norway are new initiatives helping reporters to find scientific expertise. The idea behind the web based service with some 5 000 journalist members is that media queries need help to find their way through the academia. Information officers at the universities channel the interdisciplinary questions and look for matching scientific expertise. Normally journalists get several answers from different research institutions. The Tsunami Catastrophe in South East Asia 2004 could serve as an illustration of the complexity of an event that generated questions for scientific expertise not only on tectonics and oceanography, but also on risk assessment, politics, religious beliefs, politics, rituals, human values etc. The web portal Expertanswer also contains research news from the member institutions, the whole university sector in Sweden. A selection is translated for international science portals in the US and Europe. The international channels are added value for the institutions who pays a yearly fee to uphold the service. The fact that interest for science is high in Sweden was recently demonstrated in the EuroBarometer. To what extent the increased visibility of science in media has helped is an open question. But certainly, the contact between scientists and journalists has been simplified by Expertsvar and other initiatives for reinforcing the contacts between science and society.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Scientific expertise on demand

Tina Zethraeus  

Follow the media in Sweden, and notice to what extent the media covers science. Not only by presenting scientific news, but also by using scientists for a commentary, a second opinion or a new angle. For five years the media service Expertanswer (Expertsvar in Swedish) has helped to facilitate contacts between scientists and reporters in Sweden. The service is expanding in Scandinavia, and other groups like politicians are knocking on the door, wanting the same kind of fast contact service. Expertanswer in Sweden, “Sök Xpertti” in Finland and a pilot in Norway are new initiatives helping reporters to find scientific expertise. The idea behind the web based service with some 5 000 journalist members is that media queries need help to find their way through the academia. Information officers at the universities channel the interdisciplinary questions and look for matching scientific expertise. Normally journalists get several answers from different research institutions. The Tsunami Catastrophe in South East Asia 2004 could serve as an illustration of the complexity of an event that generated questions for scientific expertise not only on tectonics and oceanography, but also on risk assessment, politics, religious beliefs, politics, rituals, human values etc. The web portal Expertanswer also contains research news from the member institutions, the whole university sector in Sweden. A selection is translated for international science portals in the US and Europe. The international channels are added value for the institutions who pays a yearly fee to uphold the service. The fact that interest for science is high in Sweden was recently demonstrated in the EuroBarometer. To what extent the increased visibility of science in media has helped is an open question. But certainly, the contact between scientists and journalists has been simplified by Expertsvar and other initiatives for reinforcing the contacts between science and society.

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