How we work
Good Judgement = science*journalism². That’s our formula.
Scientists, journalists and our science journalists at SMC: When these three factors come together and multiply their knowledge and skill, then the public can be more comprehensively and better informed – and thus empowered to make judgements.
- A current event linked to research hits the headlines.
Because a driverless car causes an accident, for example, and someone is killed.
Or when a huge iceberg breaks off an Antarctic ice shelf, for instance.
- Research results are published and cause furore in the media, as well.
When lamb foetuses are grown in an artificial womb, for example, and this method might be transferable to premature human babies.
Or when it is discovered, for instance, why some women constantly suffer from bladder infection.
- A scientific issue is hotly debated by politicians, but leaves the media unmoved.
When scientists contradict members of parliament on the health implications of nitrogen oxide emissions following the diesel scandal, for example.
Or because DNA analysis is supposed to be extended in criminal cases, for instance, but the public hardly hears anything about it.
- In brief: When science hits the headlines and it is clear that scientists’ voices could make a difference to reporting, that’s when we – the SMC editorial team – spring into action.
- The SMC editorial team finds out who the real experts are in the relevant area. Many experts are already on our database, others are researched and identified ad hoc.
- We also investigate what scientific evidence is decisive and what is available.
- We then contact the experts selected and request a statement. We usually ask a few specific questions relating to the quality of the research findings, for example, or technical aspects of the current topic. If they choose, the experts can use these questions as a scaffold.
- The scientists contacted next write a scientifically-sound statement – at very short notice. This means within a few hours when the topic is breaking news or a little longer if it is a paper in a journal with a press embargo of several days.
- We pool these expert responses, add, where appropriate, research recommendations and then immediately forward the dossier to our registered journalists. The latter are colleagues whose main activity is journalism for media in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
- All these services are free and independent – in accordance both with our professional ethos as journalists and our statutes (in German only). We comply with the principles of journalistic independence, diligence and impartiality. And we practise our values.
- Journalists can use the material as a research and quotation source for their reporting. SMC thus helps to ensure that more science appears in the media, not least in non-science sections like politics or lifestyle.
- Every couple of days after registered journalists have received an SMC dossier or the press embargo has come to an end, SMC publishes the dossier on its website under the heading Our offers, creating a repository, open to everyone, that can be searched by topic.