In the age of information, where news spreads across the world via the internet in a matter of minutes, it’s easy for any press office to claim they have global impact. But for the SMC, international reach has truly become one of the most exciting aspects of our work. The emergence of a network of sister centres based on the UK SMC is rapidly gaining credibility on a worldwide stage, with SMCs now well-established in Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Canada. And as we continue to welcome interest from around the globe, the family looks set to grow.
Clearly there are serious challenges in adapting the unique SMC model to such a wide variety of countries, but the success of the centres that already exist confirms how well the model works. Key to that success is a core commitment to independence, and a freedom from institutional brand or agenda. Each of the SMCs joining the global network has signed up to an SMC Charter underlining these guiding principles, and they have worked hard to earn the trust of journalists and scientists alike. They are able to fulfil the crucial need to inject accurate, evidence-based information into the headlines when science is in the eye of the storm.
This growing network of SMCs, operating independently but in collaboration, is proving invaluable and providing a wealth of opportunities not just for ourselves. Working together we help scientists reach a wider audience and journalists access the best experts of the day, wherever they may be. We are only at the start of this exciting journey and there will be challenges along the way but already we are building up examples of how this collaboration will be good for science and the media around the world.
The UK SMC has played a key role in the creation of other SMCs around the world. Each SMC works mainly with the national news media and scientists in their respective countries, but the communication and cooperation of the SMC network means that our reach is global when UK science hits the world news.
Current members signed up to the SMC Charter are:
The UK Science Media Centre has its roots in the influential House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee third report on Science and Society, which wanted to renew public trust in science. Established in 2002, it was originally based in the Royal Institution of Great Britain, until becoming a separate charity in its own right in April 2011. The SMC believes that scientists can have a huge impact on the way the media cover scientific issues, by engaging more quickly and more effectively with the stories that are influencing public debate and attitudes to science. Fiona Fox leads a team of 8 who help to ensure that the public have access to the best scientific evidence and expertise through the news media when science hits the headlines. The UK SMC holds press briefings and issues comments from third party experts on scientific studies or breaking news stories.
Science Media Center Germany was legally founded in June 2015 and started its service for journalists in April 2016. It aims to provide journalists in the mass media with reliable,
accurate, state-of- the-art scientific knowledge in order to promote responsible, independent reporting on important areas of science. The German SMC issues comments from scientists on scientific studies and other breaking news, delivers fact sheets and holds press briefings. Its staff consists of an editorial department of six, under the leadership of Volker Stollorz, two data specialists in the SMC Lab, one CFO for business management and fundraising and one team assistant. The two shareholders of the non-profit limited company SMC Germany are the Klaus Tschira Foundation and the German Association of Science Journalists (WPK). WPK has been supportive of the SMC from the first idea and now shares the same office in Cologne to form a “powerhouse” for science journalism.
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