Science journalists at the World Conference of Science Journalists seem to be passing the “dedication to profession" test with flying colours! Two hard-to-resist temptations are in the neighbourhood of the conference venue, the Grand Hyatt hotel on Collins Street in downtown Melbourne. One is the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the other the males-only Swan Lake ballet at the Regent Theatre. No one has confessed to yielding to the temptations – yet.
As I said, the Grand Hyatt has interesting neighbours. The Church of Scientology (a.k.a. Tom Cruise) for one. Right near the conference venue. Science, Scientology - related only on spellcheck.
Meanwhile, the Australians treated us to an evening at the Melbourne aquarium on the banks of the Yarra River. The Latino delegation -- Laura Garcia from Argentina, Luisa Massarani, the SciDev.Net Latin America co-ordinator, based in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; Valeria Roman from Argentina, Daniella Hirschfeld from Uruguay, and Ximena from Columbia, enjoyed all sitting around a shark tank. (A frequently-heard response from South African delegate Christina Scott, a paid-up member of the Cape Town Oceanarium: "OUR sharks are bigger than THEIR sharks!") The Latino delegation promised to dance if the uusual musical trio - dressed first in polar bear outfits and then in divers' gear, complete with flippers and saxophones, snare drums and tuba, as seen in the photo - would only play salsa. Sadly, the three Australian musicians said their only salsa was with chips.
A wise colleague from the developed world, giving tips on better science reporting for journalists from developing countries at a breakfast meeting on Tuesday, said we (the developing world journos) should go out of scientific conferences and hunt for more information outside.
I am all for it – I would like to have more information about new science of operas and standup comedy.
The temptation, err sorry information, is necessary for the survival of science news -- the 5th WCSJ noted how pop singer Britney Spears' marital troubles and the death of a starlet named Anna Nicole Smith are elbowing science news from the pages. All we have to do is emphasise the fun in science.
T V Padma, Scidev.Net South Asia