A meeting with Peter Hyldgård last week gave me an interesting insight into the work of videnskab.dk, the Danish science news agency.
Videnskab.dk was created in 2008 as a response to the recommendations published by a gouvernemental think tank on public understanding of science (the report is available here, though only in Danish). One of the think tank’s claims was that science needed to gain visibility in the media through challenging and entertaining programs on science and research. The report also emphasized the need to strengthen the relations between scientists and journalists.
A group of entreprising science journalists grasped this opportunity to create a new online media focusing on science and research. Peter Hyldgård was one of them. They took inspiration from a similar initiative in Norway: forskning.no.
The financing models of the two initiatives are quite different: when forskning.no is an association composed of and financed by 75 research institutions, videnskab.dk is financed by the Danish Ministry of Research with a contribution from the Ministry of Culture. But the editorial principle is the same: the two online media focus on making science, research and learning popular and engaging.
forskning.no and videnskab.dk have also launched a common initiative, sciencenordic.com, to promote nordic research in English.
Videnskab.dk is edited by a team of 6 science journalists with interdisciplinary backgrounds mixing science and journalism. They rely on a large network of freelancers to provide new stories to the website everyday (5-6 new posts a day in average).
Videnskab.dk has been expanding very fast and is today Scandinavia’s largest online science media. And in a time where resources are scarce for classical newspapers, videnskab.dk contributes to spread more science and research in the media. The investigation of scientific subjects is indeed time consuming and expensive for classical newspapers, so they tend to rely more and more on videnskab.dk to unveil scientific news.
Over the years, videnskab.dk has become an acknowledged media among scientists and hosts today around 60 science blogs. Bloggers are mostly young scientists. Still, publishing articles on the popular web site is not a priority in research institutions. Peter mentioned the example of an enthusiastic PhD student who wanted to publish an article, but was stopped by her mentor, who meant that it was not relevant for her to do it.
Yes, science communicators still have a great job to do to prove the value of their work for science and research! Nina Bjerglund, a enthusiastic blogger writing on public health communication, has published an interesting post on this subject: “Science communication – What’s in it for the scientist? What’s in it for science?”
Peter Hyldgård is convinced that communication is an essential part of successful research: if scientists are not able to communicate on their research in a convincing way, they might fail to get the necessary fundings for their research.
That is why videnskab.dk also offers communication courses where they give scientists methods and tools to identify “core stories” in their work and tell about their research so that it captures the attention of their target group.
Thank you to Peter Hyldgård for his time and interest for my project. He gave me a lot of good ideas to develop this blog, this is priceless!