Sacked here, hired there

Published: Wednesday 15 September 2004


Science communication is changing in Brazil. Newspapers are handling financial crunch by sacking science reporters, but public and private organisations are creating new positions to popularise science, says the Science Development Network.

"The Brazilian press is in crisis and the market for science journalism continues to decrease in our country," says science writer Marcelo Leite.

"Few journalists are knowledgeable about science and the size of the editorial staff [for science] has been kept small," says Ricardo Bonalume Neto, a reporter at Folha de So Paulo. "A science journalist's options are to either not make enough money to feed himself or to write about other subjects instead."

In the 1980s there was a boom and several newspapers created sections on science and hired science journalists. Leite, who was sacked as science editor at the newspaper Folha de So Paulo, says the activity is now being systematically reduced.

Paradoxically, the wider world of Brazilian science communication is facing a boom, says Ildeu de Castro Moreira, head of the government's department of science popularisation. "Several science museums and centres have been created in recent years and science communication is now on the agenda of several research institutions." Science and environment journalist Mauricio Tuffani agrees that other forms of science communication are on the increase.

"Unlike a few years ago, when newspapers had more experienced journalists in their staff, today the press offices [of companies, universities] have high level staff while the newspapers increasingly have less experienced professionals," says Tuffani. "The opportunities in science journalism are in fact being reduced, but there are jobs available in commercial and institutional communication."

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