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Why science journalists must “tell the story” as well as deliver the data: CORDIS attends the 11th World Conference of Science Journalists, 2019

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, opened the 11th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) in Lausanne on 1 July 2019. As his father was a journalist in a troubled Portugal, he started his passionate, inspiring speech with why journalists have to “Tell the story!”

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Reminiscing about his childhood, Commissioner Moedas tells of how his father was a journalist in the turbulent, revolutionary Portugal of the seventies. One day his father came home and told his mother that he would be sent to prison. He implored his wife to tell the children if anything ever happened to him to “tell the story.” Commissioner Moedas stressed: “We have to tell the story of science to the people as science journalists. Evidence is not enough, you have to tell the story.” Going on to point out that when you stop telling the story, your identity becomes weak, he mentioned the all-important component, emotions. Furthermore, nowadays journalists are competing with a whole generation of storytellers so they have to be even better than those who worked side by side with his father. Thousands of stories on the skyline: Horizon 2020 gives rise to the new dawn of Horizon Europe The European Commission was a sponsor of the WCSJ and is of course the engineer and provider behind Horizon 2020 (H2020), soon to be succeeded by Horizon Europe. This imminent and ambitious EUR 100 billion research and innovation programme will give researchers and small businesses the chance to lift their research successfully off the ground to reach an impact point that may not be possible without this funding. To make an effective proposal, the Commission built on what has been learned from H2020. At a press conference with the Director-General (DG) for Research and Innovation, Jean-Eric Paquet, presented and aired the future challenges for European research, with information on the new, looming bright light of Horizon Europe. Before the close of the current Framework Programme, DG Paquet revealed there is EUR 11 billion still in the H2020 coffers for research. Challenges meeting the new knowledge revolution Societal challenges that greet Horizon Europe head-on include lowering carbon in the atmosphere, making the most of resources in a circular economy, and security threats that are growing in scale and diversity. DG Paquet anticipates that the next knowledge revolution will be in artificial intelligence and digitisation. Horizon Europe will run until 2027 with a budget of EUR 100 billion to “aggregate the diversity of European research adding critical mass to magnify project impact,” he commented. The research will also be more applied, a big move from H2020. The five clusters in the Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness Pillar – Health, Inclusive and Secure Society, Digital and Industry, Climate, Energy and Mobility and Food and Natural Resources – will receive a total of EUR 50.5 billion and will be deeply cross-cutting, giving provision for multidisciplinary research results delivery. With a projected 20 000 projects to be funded, the scope is enormous for journalist material to relate to the public and policymakers. Together, the Commission and the European Parliament will make policies better with informed, accurate data. As Commissioner Moedas emphasised: “Good science stories are essential to democracy.”