— media, science & society - engagement & governance in Europe
The MESSENGER project has been completed in a little over 12 months. During that relatively short time we have met and consulted with nearly two hundred actors and stakeholders across Europe, seeking their advice with a view to developing the original Guidelines on Science and Health Communication developed by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) in association with the Royal Institution (RI) and the Royal Society (RS). The aim has been to ensure that advice given to European scientists on how to communicate more effectively with the media fully takes into account the various stakeholder perspectives and builds on existing knowledge and expertise.
Communicating with citizens via the popular media is part of the wider process of dialogue and engagement between the science communities and civil society — a necessary and desirable process to maintain and foster trust in science and technology in Europe. It is, therefore, essential to get it right.
The MESSENGER project has also undertaken two types of media analysis to inform scientists, press officers and others engaged in the interface with journalists about both cross-national differences in the roles and styles of the news media and the ways in which various actors and stakeholders feature in reports. While we do not claim that this has provided a definitive account of the complexities of media reporting across all science disciplines and across all EU member states, it has established a basic framework with the potential for further development.
This project report is inevitably a lengthy document, covering as it does all aspects of the work conducted. The specific outputs of MESSENGER, however, including the European Guidelines for scientists and resources for journalists, are posted separately in a more digestible form. The project web site will be maintained by SIRC over the coming years. In addition to ensuring the accessibility of the documents it will hopefully attract feedback and further contributions from interested parties. The results of the various media analyses are also available from the site, together with copies of this report.
The response to draft versions of the Guidelines has been very encouraging. A number of leading organisations within both the journalism and science communities have offered to help us disseminate them amongst wide audiences across Europe, and we will continue this process well beyond the time scale of the project to ensure that they have an enduring impact.
Our sincere thanks to all those who have contributed to MESSENGER and for the support and patience of DG Research in Brussels.
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