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The Science Media Center Germany

We are a journalistic, independent and non-profit institution. Our team supports journalists free of charge in reporting on science-related topics. Our goals are laid down in our articles of association.

With a constantly growing network of currently more than 1,000 contributing researchers, we currently support over 1,600 accredited journalists in their reporting - with expertise from the sciences. We deliver evidence and facts from the sciences. And we do so independently, quickly and reliably.  

Especially when current events are related to scientific expertise or new research results cause a public stir, journalists are faced with considerable challenges: 

     

  • Where to find reliable expertise in the sciences in a timely manner? 
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  • Where to get expertise from willing researchers for quotes or additional information?   
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  • How to find rational arguments in polarised debates?  
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This is exactly where our work begins. For new studies and in complex situations, we proactively obtain proven expertise, bring renowned experts and journalists into direct exchange in virtual press briefings and summarise fact-based findings. We pass on these raw materials directly to the journalists accredited with us.

In this way, we provide real added value for reporting in the subject areas of medicine and life sciences, climate and environment, energy and mobility, and digital and technology, and with our network of researchers.

In addition, we develop data-based tools for the digital science journalism of the future in the SMC Lab.
But we do even more. As an intermediary, we want to promote the exchange of information and dialogue between science, the media and the public.

For our work, we received the Leuchtturm Special Award of the Netzwerk Recherche for "special journalistic achievements" in the Corona pandemic in July 2020. "Especially in times like these, many editorial offices benefit from the expertise of science journalists. Therefore, we want to honour all those who have acquired this competence through their many years of experience. The SMC is an outstanding example of this".

Our motto: We love enlightenment!  

Our editorial team consists of ten science journalists with a focus on the four departments Climate and Environment, Energy and Mobility, Digital and Technology and Medicine and Life Sciences.

Our Lab with its twelve employees is the development lab of the SMC. It supports the editorial team in delving into socially relevant topics in a data-driven way. Here we develop data-based tools for the digital science journalism of the future. For more information, please visit the Lab's website.

Innovation Digital Media accompanies our new, sometimes very complex and innovative offer formats with changing, project-related team members in each case.

Our team is united in its convictions:

     

  • We work in a balanced way based on justified convictions.
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  • We put arguments before opinions.
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  • We want to make scientific findings and their methodology comprehensible.
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  • We want to provide arguments from knowledgeable researchers for public discourse.
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  • We do not want to agitate, but to explore consensus.
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  • We criticise disinformation and therefore want to make these strategies visible.
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Our goals are measured by the challenges facing journalism and our knowledge society. We want to find out:

     

  • What is new?
    In view of the flood of scientific publications, we try to keep our thematic radar alert to developments in science and to spot new findings.
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  • What is important and relevant?
    In view of the current, medium-term and long-term challenges, we try to distinguish the unimportant from the important, the irrelevant from the relevant topics.
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  • What belongs where?
    We strive for contextualisation and classification in already clarified knowledge.
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  • Who knows what best?
    We refine our meta-expertise and strive to find the expert in each case. We are not looking for encyclopaedic breadth, but for scientifically proven expertise in a subject area.
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  • What is needed?
    We do not seek news for the sake of sensation, innovation for the sake of innovation, but ask for what the target group needs in each case. We are there for our primary target group: competent journalism about science.
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We try to live and implement these values in our work:

     

  • We make editorially independent decisions and think in terms of the common good.
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  • We are alert, curious and eager to experiment.
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  • We act cooperatively, constructively and seek respectful dialogue.
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  • We work journalistically carefully and want to learn from our mistakes.
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  • We live a culture of openness, are open to discussion and tolerant of those who think differently.
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We are not alone and are part of an international network.

In 2002, the world's first SMC was founded: the Science Media Centre UK in London. The SMC in the UK thus entered pioneer territory.

The international SMC network includes, in order of foundation:

The various SMCs are organised and operate independently of each other. Depending on the country, they fulfil their tasks for strong science journalism differently. This is reflected in their respective focal points. They cooperate when appropriate in terms of content, for example in the selection of topics, and - with the exception of Sciline - they have a common charter.

We were founded on 1 July 2015 on the initiative of the Science Press Conference (Wissenschafts-Pressekonferenz WPK). The shareholders of the non-profit GmbH are the Klaus Tschira Foundation with a share of 90 percent and the Wissenschafts-Pressekonferenz with 10 percent. On 12 April 2016, we published our first mailing to the media.

"From the point of view of the Science Council, the Science Media Center is an excellent example of how it is possible to support science journalism - in this case primarily with funds from a private foundation - without compromising journalistic independence." 
Science Council position paper on science communication (02.11.2021).  

"With its novel support services and innovative ways of working, the SMC can be considered an organisational prototype in journalism, possibly anticipating certain developmental steps of the field as a whole." 
Christopher Buschow, Junior Professor for Organisation and Networked Media at Bauhaus University Weimar in "Media and Communication".  

"When I [...] started looking at the role of the science media centre, I defined it as a knowledge broker that transmits scientific knowledge to journalism. Over time, however, I realised that the organisation does more: It also tries to improve the relationship between scientists and journalists. This second role would be: Trust Broker. The third role is that of a value broker, who communicates the values that underlie a "knowledge society". The aim is that scientific expertise and evidence, as well as independent journalism, should form the basis for political and social decision-making." 
Irene Broer, Hans Bredow Institute  

"It has long been necessary to strengthen the classical gatekeeper instances in science and serious journalism.... This [also] requires the promotion of public interest-oriented journalism by foundations that are far removed from politics, as well as the development of new "intermediaries" (think of the work of the German Science Media Center in Cologne)". 
The Tübingen media scientist Bernhard Pörksen in SPIEGEL. 

Linguistic examination of new text form of journalism: 
Janich N (2020): »Klimawandel – Wer hilft den Menschen sich zu ändern?« – Von der Klimawandel- Kommunikation zur Klimakommunikations-Reflexion (Technische Universität Darmstadt) 

Janich N (2021): Technische Universität Darmstadt: Wissenschaft in 30 Sekunden? Kurze wissenschaftliche Texte an der Schnittstelle zwischen Wissenschaft und Öffentlichkeit. In Pappert S et al. (Hg.): Kleine Texte. Frankfurt am Main, 255-284. ISBN-10 ‏ 363181247 

Editorial practices and role identity:  
Broer I (2020): Rapid reaction: Ethnographic insights into the science media center and its response to the Covid‐19 outbreak. Journal of Science Communication, 19(5). https://doi.org/10.22323/2.19050208  

Broer I et al. (2021): Das Science Media Center Germany: Ethnographische Einblicke in die Arbeitsweisen und Rollen eines Intermediärs zwischen Wissenschaft und Journalismus [The Science Media Center Germany: Ethnographic insights into the work and roles of an intermediary between science and journalism] (Working Paper No. 57). Hans‐Bredow‐ Institut. https://doi.org/10.21241/ssoar.73542  

Suhr M et al. (2022): Das Science Media Center Germany als Prototyp einer neuartigen Unterstützungsinfrastruktur für den Journalismus? Organisationsinnovationen im Journalismus. ISBN: 978-3-658-35471-8   

Buschow C et al. (2022): Media Work as Field Advancement: The Case of Science Media Center Germany. Media and Communication, 10 (1), 99-109. https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v10i1.4454 

Survey among users: 
Suhr M (2021): Wegweiser im Wissenschaftsdschungel. Eine qualitative Befragung zum Einfluss des Science Media Center Germany auf die Arbeit von (Wissenschafts-) Journalist:innen in Deutschland, Masterarbeit Fakultät Medien der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar