The International Medis Awards addresses the lack of a regional system and recognizes the excellent accomplishments in medicine and pharmacy of everyone working in daily clinical practice. But this story follows a different group of professionals. The kind which brings science closer to the people. Unreliable sources, false experts, fake news – all this while facing a world health crisis. Listen to a discussion about science journalism nowadays with Mićo Tatalović, Renata Dacinger, Lea Vitezić and Milica Momčilović.

How complicated is a workday of a science journalist? 

It is more complicated. But still, unreliable sources and pseudo-science are a big problem for generalist journalists, those who do not cover science closely. For us who do specialise in science, I think we find it a bit easier to know which the trustworthy sources are. Because we have been covering the issue for a long time, we look for evidence, peer reviewed journals and data that has been published and checked by other experts.

– Mićo Tatalović, Croatian research editor working in the UK, editor at Research Professional News, board member of the Association of European Journalists

Being a science journalist has always been difficult. They think I know everything, but actually I am just a journalist. People can search for information everywhere, some of it is relevant, some is just fake news. /.../ Sometimes I have a feeling not everybody is happy with what we report about, they just want us to confirm what they are thinking.

Renata Dacinger, Slovenian science journalist, TV editor

Listen to podcast:

In his 2005 essay, the philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt wrote about this distinction: "The liar cares about the truth and attempts to hide it; the bullshitter doesn't care if what they say is true or false, but rather only cares whether their listener is persuaded." It seems that persuading with facts is much harder than abusing a rhetoric to bend the truth. Why do you think that is? 

The main problem of today’s journalism in general is that it became click-bait journalism, and sometimes facts are not as interesting as something else, which is not true. Journalism is mostly online at the moment and what counts is not the quality, but grabbing attention and writing sensational headlines.

Lea Vitezić, Croatian journalist working in London, member of the Covid Action Network

Many media outlets obviously still believe only bad news is good news. Are people really only interested in scandals?

Marketing of the apocalypse seems to sell. Everybody is staring at the big picture of a car crash on the cover of the newspaper. It is only the title and the picture. Somewhere around 30% of people even read the article. And many times, the story does not even connect with the title. It is media manipulation. /.../ The need for science journalism today is obvious. I think we all need to adjust to our specialties and network better with our colleges.

Milica Momčilović, science editor at the Serbian broadcasting corporation RTV Serbia, President of World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ)

This story is only a part of a longer discussion which you can hear in the following video: