Newsletter Digest: Desk Guide, SCANZ 2011 and the EPA Bill

Desk Guide for Covering Science

This week, the SMC launched the 28-page booklet Desk Guide for Covering Science – an indispensable resource aimed at journalists covering science-related issues.

The desk guide is made up of a series of short articles on everything from communicating statistics and risk to dealing with balance in a science story. A central spread gives those new to the science round a good overview of the New Zealand science system and where the specialties of the various research institutions lie.

Also covered is the peer review process, embargoes, covering the scientific angles of natural disasters and cultivating scientists as sources. Contributions from the BBC’s Pallab Ghosh and veteran US science writer and former director of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships Boyce Rensburger.

“We’ll be distributing the booklets to newsrooms the length of the country,” said SMC manager Peter Griffin.

“It’s a handy resource that we hope will hang around on journalists’ desks and give them some ideas when they are tackling science-related stories.”

The Desk Guide is available now in e-zine format online and as a PDF download and in text format on the SMC website. Contact the SMC if you would like a physical copy.

SCANZ: listening to the other side

The Science Communicators’ Association (SCANZ) is gearing up for its next annual conference with a relaunched website, regional events and a new form for discussion of science communication projects.

The SCANZ 2011 conference is set down for Feb 21 – 22 and will be held on the University of Auckland city campus. The SMC took the lead on organising the programme for SCANZ 2011 and came up with the theme: Listening to the other side.

This means we will hear from people who come across science in the course of their lives and work, including artists, journalists, farmers and business people.

What are their perceptions of science? What experiences have they had interacting with science? What can we learn from it all to improve all of our science communication efforts?

Update yourself on the latest science communication initiatives underway nationwide, network with like-minded sci-comms practitioners and soak up the atmosphere at the Auckland Museum where our annual dinner will be held.

Speakers include Dr Andi Horvath, Senior Curator at Museum Victoria and science broadcaster, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Arthur Meek, playwright and author of Collapsing Creation, John Watt, star of the Ever Wondered TV series and conservation activist Nic Vallance. The draft programme is available here.

Meanwhile, a new SCANZ forum has been set up to discuss science communication projects underway and will hopefully serve as a point of collaboration for science communicators across the sector.

Registrations for SCANZ are now open. Tickets for the conference cost $230 including dinner and a guided tour at Auckland Museum. Contact the SMC for further details about the programme.

EPA bill: first reading next week

Legislation covering the establishment of an overarching regulatory body to ensure protection of the environment will get an airing next week with the first reading of the Environmental Authority Bill.

The Environmental Protection Authority already exists, but will merge with the existing Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) to become a standalone Crown entity.

By October 2011 it will also collect some functions from the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Development, MED, in relation to administering the Emissions Trading Scheme.

At this point, as well as processing resource consent applications of national significance under the Resource Management Act 1991, the EPA will have responsibility for:

– The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996

– Climate Change Response Act 2002

– administration of the Emissions Trading Scheme.