Back to All Events

Science, Journalism, and Democracy: Grappling with a New Reality

The current media landscape is a confusing swirl of reality, misinformation, and so-called fake news. Where does science communication fit into this mess? And how can science communicators navigate a political climate that's increasingly hostile to both science and journalism? 

This one-day conference will give science communicators new tools for doing their jobs in the current political climate. It will also help attendees learn strategies to get answers from governmental agencies and other sources that may be reluctant to answer questions. Conference attendees will hear not only from journalists but also from historians, lawyers, and scientists exploring the evolving interactions among science, journalism, and democracy in our society. 

There is no charge to attend the conference, but registration is required. A registration form follows the agenda below. Space is limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Note that the conference will be livestreamed for registrants unable to attend in person. Please register below to receive the livestream link when it becomes available.   



The Rockefeller University

Carson Family Auditorium (map)

1230 York Avenue

New York, New York 10065


8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.  Coffee and registration

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.  Keynote
Carl Zimmer, Columnist at the New York Times

10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  Science, journalism, and democracy: Does the current political climate pose a threat to science and journalism? Is this anything new? How does this moment look when we consider the historical context of science, media, and politics?

Mariette DiChristina, Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American

Dan Fagin, Director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University
Lisa Gitelman, Professor of Media and English at New York University
Michael Halpern, Deputy Director of the Center for Science and Democracy
Robert Snyder, Professor of Journalism and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark
Sara Tjossem, Senior Lecturer in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University

11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.  Getting and protecting information: What's the best way to get information from a government agency that doesn't want to share? How can journalists make sure their sources and data are secure? Hear from journalists, legal and cybersecurity experts.

Doug Levy, Writer specializing in Health and Science / Technology / Crisis

Matt Schafer, Counsel at Buzzfeed News
Ben Schiller, Staff Writer at Fast Company
Charles Seife, Professor at New York University
Suzanna Schmeelk, Security Expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering

1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.  Lunch

2:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.  Rethinking your beat: How should we frame science stories? Has the landscape for science journalism in areas like biomedicine or the environment changed in ways that should be reflected in the coverage of those fields? If so, how might the approach taken by jounalists to their reporting be adapted to be more responsive to the challenges of the moment and the needs of their readers, particularly those who might be affected by significant science policy changes?

Robin Marantz Henig, Contributing Writer for the New York Times Magazine

Virginia Hughes, Senior Editor at BuzzFeed News
Heather Murphy, Digital Deputy of the Science Desk at the New York Times
Kendra Pierre-Louis, Environmental Reporter at Popular Science
David Sassoon, Editor-in-Chief at Inside Climate News

4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Science, journalism, and activism: Where is the line? Should journalists and scientists talk openly about their political views? Join marches? Donate to causes?

Michael Lemonick, Opinion Editor at Scientific American

Stevie Bergman, Physicist and Activist
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Founder of Ocean Collective
Apoorva Mandavilli, Editor-in-Chief at Spectrum

5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.Closing remarks
Philip Yam, Editor at the Simons Foundation

Organizing committee:

Brooke Borel 
Freelance journalist and author
Board member, NASWJoe Bonner 
Freelance communications consultant
Board co-chair, SWINY

David Levine 
Freelance health/medical writer
Board co-chair, SWINYFranklin Hoke 
Ex. Dir., Communications and Public Affairs
The Rockefeller University




[Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash]