"Communicating robust science" with Clive Cookson

Past Event

16 November 2018, 5:00pm - 6:00pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

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This talk is co-hosted by the Oxford Martin School, University College & Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, to celebrate their 20th Anniversary and is a continuation of the Trinity Term Series Science and Populism: from evidence to narrative

How well do journalists treat science? Newspapers, radio and television are sometimes accused of oscillating indiscriminately between scare stories and a 'gee whizz' approach where everything is a breakthrough or miracle cure.

There is some truth in that view. But Clive Cookson, Science Editor of the FT, believes that science journalism today is better than ever – not so much because journalists have improved but because scientists are becoming more willing to talk to the media about their work.

His talk will include a history of science journalism since it emerged as a recognised field after World War Two, and a look at some of the recent science-related issues in the media, from climate change and genetically modified crops to AI and neurotechnology.

He'll look at the sources of science stories in the media and analyse some of the factors that still cause poor reporting, including the pressures to sensationalise discoveries and the intrusion of politics into science coverage. How is the decline of traditional mainstream media and the rise of online coverage – and a powerful PR industry – affecting our output?

About the speaker

Clive Cookson has worked in science journalism for the whole of his professional life. He graduated with a First Class degree in chemistry from Oxford University in 1974. After journalism training on the Luton Evening Post, he became science correspondent of the Times Higher Education Supplement in London and then spent four years in Washington as American Editor of THES.

He returned to London in 1981 as technology correspondent of the Times and moved to BBC Radio as science correspondent in 1983. He joined the Financial Times as technology editor in 1987 and has been Science Editor of the FT since 1991. He is an honorary member of the British Science Association and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.