Debate planned for Helsinki

At the 8th World Conference of Science Journalists in Helsinki, Finland, my friend and colleague Hans van Maanen and myself will host a lively debate session titled “The blurring lines between journalism and PR. How to preserve independence?”

The session, on 25 June, 2013, will feature an animated debate, sparked by some results of a new survey. What are the trends, what (if anything) could we do to counter them?
Should journalists stop earning extra by writing for PR magazines, brochures or funding proposals? Should journalists disclose all potential conflicts of interest (such as free travel)? Should governments, universities and researchers stop financing journalists and/or media organizations? Should media reject sponsored science content? Could a new code of ethics help, perhaps, in making the slope less slippery?

Organisers and moderators

Peter Vermij, now a Dutch science communications consultant for corporate, NGO and research organization clients, previously an award-winning science reporter for newspapers, television and science journals including Nature Biotechnology and Nature Medicine.

Hans van Maanen, acclaimed freelance science writer and popular science book author from the Netherlands, specializing in statistics.


Kai Kupferschmidt, a freelance science journalist based in Berlin. He studied molecular biomedicine at the University of Bonn and journalism at the Berlin Journalism School. He works as a contributing correspondent for ‘Science’ magazine and edits a weekly science page at German newspaper ‘Der Tagesspiegel’.

Anne Sasso, a Vermont-based freelance journalist, equally at home in leading outdoor and science magazines as in the boardrooms of corporate clients. She contributed to The Science Writers’ Handbook: Everything you Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age’. Today, she writes almost exclusively for corporate clients.

Heikki Kuutti, a senior researcher in Journalism at the Department of Communication of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. Before moving into research, Heikki worked at regional Finnish newspapers. In between, he served as Head of Information at the Finnish Air Force.

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