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Earthwake Project

In a world where science and technology are influencing ever more of our choices, the way science is presented in TV programmes and on the web and modern media is of increasing significance. The Earthwake project held a two day seminar in Strasbourg to explore the issues and opportunities surrounding how Europe’s TV and AV world should adapt to the new scientific world. In particular, the role of non-science based slots in bringing science and technology to fresh audiences is at the heart of this seminar. There were sessions on the Natural and Reported worlds and TV drama as well as contributions on the expanding opportunities for web productions and advertising. There was also a public session where a general audience will view some innovative examples from existing European output, vote on their favourites, and contribute to the debate on how programme makers and broadcasters should present science in the coming decade.

ALL Earthwake Project information is available at: www.earthwake.eu 

 

Report on the EARTHWAKE project, examining the opportunities for science on European television over the next decade.

A project funded by the Research Directorate of the European Commission under framework programme 6.

Executive Summary

This report sets out the conclusions and recommendations from the EARTHWAKE forum held in Strasbourg on 8th and 9th November 2007. The intention of the forum was to prepare a strategy (aimed particularly those responsible for the further shaping of FP7 and policy at European level relating to Science in Society issues) to harness the appeal of popular strands of TV to create a new awareness and interest in science. It brought together leading European TV executives, scientists, science communicators, TV writers and producers, the general public, advertisers and web designers. The report proposes a series of 16 recommendations for action. These cover a wide spectrum of issues but may be encapsulated in the following general conclusions that represent a synthesis of the discussions that took place over the two weeks:

Science and scientific culture can occupy a much larger part of the totality of broadcast content and to facilitate this would be valuable as a means to embedding better scientific culture into popular culture The broadcasting community are insufficiently aware of the opportunities for them that are inherent in scientific content and have limited knowledge of the role and realities of science or of how to find out more about the area The science community understand that there is a need to enhance public awareness of the role of Science in Society and the potential impact of broadcasting to this end. But they are not sufficiently aware of or connected to, the mechanisms and networks that could make this happen and do not have a broad understanding of the variety of genres that offer opportunities for science strands in broadcasting.

Consequently there exists a fundamental need for a large scale programme of bridge building and facilitation between these two communities. This would include mechanisms to offer support and contacts to writers and producers so that they could access science stories and supporting science advice and likewise for science communicators and scientists to improve their interface with the broadcasting community. Ideas on ways to do this include:

  1. the sponsoring of high profile festivals that showcase best practice and offer a prestigious forum and prizes that reward the considerable efforts required of writers, producers and their scientific collaborators to bring scientific culture to popular notice (these should go beyond the focus on scientific documentaries to promote a more pervasive presence of science on television).
  2. the establishment and support of networks amongst the various actors spreading broadly across Europe, that could provide an infrastructure for the effort, in particular:
    • The sponsoring (or support) of events bringing Science and Technology in a user friendly way to Writers, Producers and Broadcasters (as for example the event in this project or those developed by PAWS/EuroPAWS)
    • Support, at the ideas stage i.e. early in programme development, for new productions potentially involving science and technology, notably in TV genres not rooted in science such as drama and general magazine formats

Click here to download the full report (.pdf – Right click and select ‘Save Target As…’)

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