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How reliable science communication can fight fake news

Effective science communication has never been more crucial to countering misinformation. The EU-funded ENJOI project is developing standards to make it more reliable and impactful.

Society

In order for a democratic society to function correctly, citizens need to trust the information they are receiving, and act on it accordingly. Humanity is living through an infodemic in which we are bombarded with information, and where scientific fact often conflicts with accidental or deliberate misinformation. The effective, reliable and open communication of science is at the heart of this struggle. Yet there are no recognised standards or principles in science journalism today. The EU-funded ENJOI (ENgagement and JOurnalism Innovation for Outstanding Open Science Communication) project focuses on closing this gap, by working towards a manifesto for open science communication. ENJOI has developed a set of SPIs (Standards, Principles and Indicators) for those practising science journalism to do so in the most effective and ethical way.

Finding and fostering best journalism practices

The ENJOI team has run a series of engagement workshops, in which open discussion led to the formulation of agreed upon SPIs. These workshops took place in four countries (Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain) to take into account differing cultural contexts. The whole process is designed with ‘co-creation’ in mind, in which bringing people with varied opinions, skills and experiences together will generate ideas and debates. More than 50 professionals from a range of backgrounds participated in the engagement workshops. Aside from the engagement workshops, ENJOI is also running qualitative participatory research, and will evaluate and test its findings in due course with science communicators.

A manifesto for science communication

Now that the SPIs have been developed in the ENJOI Engagement Labs, the project will condense the findings into a Manifesto for Outstanding Open Science Communication. With this manifesto, the project hopes to improve science communication by driving engagement, trust, reliability, accuracy and openness in the way research is reported. The future goal of the project is to create a central online location to promote training and collaboration across the science communication ecosystem. This 'Observatory' will include: news about networking opportunities, to build an international network of science communicators; a series of online resources to help communicators navigate the world of science journalism; and accessible tools, such as training courses, guidelines and webinars, to help communicators improve their craft. This landmark product will build towards ENJOI’s ultimate goal: to improve science communication and contribute to the critical thinking, digital awareness and media literacy of practitioners. The result will be a better informed public and a more resilient democratic society.

Keywords

ENJOI, fake, news, science, communication, manifesto, engagement, labs