OF SCIENCE JOURNALISTS
In the increasingly borderless world of the 21st century, a world dominated by international operating systems, global communications networks, and pan-national commercial, educational, and cultural institutions, science and technology journalists need comparable global organizations to match and – counteract – these major socio-political-economic developments. Such global vision and access is all the more necessary as science and technology continues to evolve both as driver, and potential destroyer, of human progress. This applies to the industrialized as well as the developing countries.
Although there are distinct centers of excellence around the world, much scientific research is no longer being confined by geographical barriers or political boundaries. Science news of interest and importance to people everywhere can originate anywhere. At the same time, many problems and challenges of the modern age – climate change, runaway population, emerging diseases, environmental pollution, ecological degradation, and even techno-terrorism – are global issues.
The concept of a truly international, non-political, all-inclusive organization – a World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) – is a direct response to the new awareness of science’s internationalism. A proposal for such a federation was made at the First World Conference in Tokyo in 1992 and later formally included as part of the statement issued by delegates to the Second World Conference of Science Journalists, held in Hungary in 1999. This statement, known as "The Budapest Declaration", specifically recognized Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression ... without interference ... and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Within this framework, the WFSJ is designed to answer some specific needs of science journalists. Despite their independent nature, journalists can be influenced and educated by their colleagues from other countries. While many issues are the same no matter where one works, there are political, social, and cultural differences that shape both science and journalism in different parts of the world. It is professionally healthy to discover and appreciate the quality and quantity of good reporting – and research – outside one's national borders. Equally important, just as scientists benefit from the contacts made through international organizations, similar associations of journalists can create invaluable mutual-assistance networks that can span the globe, especially in the era of the Internet.
On another level, the WFSJ is intended as an instrument for making major scientific questions and technical issues transparent and addressing the scientific illiteracy of much of the world's citizenry. This means that science journalists can no longer be mere translators of science – clever spokespeople for researchers – but rather they must be thoughtful critics and commentators, linking the world of science and technology to the daily life of ordinary persons, clarifying the processes of research and discovery, and making the public aware of the social, economic, and political context of science and technology, and its impact on society.
The collective power and influence of the WFSJ and its worldwide membership may also encourage publishers and broadcast producers to dedicate more space and time to science (including health, technology, and environment) coverage and to lend support to the professional training of science journalists, especially young journalists in the developing world. One major goal is to assist the formation of science journalists’ associations in countries where there are none and energise existing organizations.
In short, the WFSJ has the potential to promote a new culture of science journalism, one that can cope with the challenges of the 21st century and live up to the principles of civil society and democracy. Only well-informed and educated people can understand the consequences of scientific issues, or the applications of research, and ultimately support or reject them.
Article 1: Mission
1.1 The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) is a non-profit, nongovernmental international organization representing science and technology journalists’ organizations in all parts of the world. Although primarily an "association of associations", the WFSJ also supports individual membership, especially for those journalists who do not have a national association of science writers in their home countries. The WFSJ is not designed to replace national bodies, or to discourage the linking of them in larger, regional federations. Rather, the WFSJ serves as a means for science communicators everywhere to share in the mutual benefits of an international professional organization that protects the rights of journalists, serves as a bridge between scientists and public, and promotes a new world culture of science journalism based on the principles of civil society and democracy.
1.2 The WFSJ supports, respects, and works to promote the rights, safety, and livelihoods of science journalists in all countries, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, or sexual preference.
Article 2: Purposes and Objectives
2.1 The WFSJ strives to improve communication between the world scientific community and general society by promoting and defending the free flow of information both within that community and to the general public through the news and information media.
2.2 The WFSJ maintains a website and other means of global communication for disseminating information about advances, achievements, opportunities, and trends in science journalism, as well as current issues, problems, and threats to the field and its practitioners.
2.3 The WFSJ facilitates and encourages training, networking, and education for science journalists everywhere, and especially in the developing world.
2.4 The WFSJ organizes regular exchanges between its member organizations and their individual members, including site visits.
2.5 The WFSJ coordinates periodic convenings of world conferences of science journalists.
2.6 The WFSJ helps to establish and maintain professional standards in science journalism.
2.7 The WFSJ encourages the foundation of national associations of science journalism where there are none.
Article 3: Membership
3.1 The WFSJ is an "umbrella" organization; thus, its members are other organizations and associations, including but not limited to: international organizations of science and technology communicators (journalists, writers, editors, broadcasters, film and video producers, academic and research press officers, etc.) and national or regional organizations of science and technology communicators, including those devoted to specific scientific disciplines or branches of science writing (e.g., medicine, physics, environment, etc. )
3.2 The WFSJ also recognizes and represents individual science journalists not associated with international, national, or regional science journalists’ organizations, especially those journalists who have no access to such organizations. An international organization affiliated with the WFSJ will receive such individual members and represent their interests in the federation.
3.3 Prospective members must apply to the General Assembly and be approved by two-thirds majority of a "Membership Committee" appointed by the Executive Board and endorsed by the General Assembly. The criteria for membership in all categories will be set by the committee and posted on the WFSJ website.
3.4 Members who violate the spirit of the WFSJ constitution, or who do not fulfill duties and responsibilities of membership, particularly in regard to the timely payment of membership fees, will be warned by the Executive Board, and cease to be members if three such warnings go unheeded.
3.5 Members who have not paid their contributions lose the right to vote.
Article 4: General Assembly
4.1 The General Assembly, composed of all members, is the primary deliberative body of the WFSJ.
4.2 The General Assembly convenes within a period no greater than three years, at a place to be determined by the Executive Board.
4.3 A majority of members must be represented at the General Assembly to make any changes or amendments to the Constitution, with such action requiring a two-thirds vote of those in attendance.
4.4 For all other issues, a majority of members present at a General Assembly meeting may effect an action, subject to majority ratification by electronic (email) polling of the membership.
4.5 If matters need to be decided upon between General Assemblies, or if a majority of members is not present at an Assembly, or if an Assembly is postponed for an inordinate period, an electronic (e-mail) vote will be called, with a time limit of eight weeks set for responses, with replies from a majority of members necessary to effect an action.
4.6 The General Assembly elects the WFSJ Executive Board and the President.
Article 5: Executive Board
5.1 The Executive Board is the administrative and operational body of the WFSJ and consists of seven members: a President, two Vice-presidents, one Secretary, one Treasurer, and two at-large members.
5.2 Members of the Board are elected for periods of three years. Re-election is possible.
5.3 The Board acts within the regulations of the Constitution and those decisions imposed by the General Assembly, but also within the limits of a budget accepted by the General Assembly. It reports to the General Assembly via an electronic newsletter distributed individually and also posted on the WFSJ website. The communication shall include an annual administrative report as well as financial accounts updated and submitted every six months.
Article 6: Communication
6.1 The WFSJ website and e-mail newsletter are the key instruments for disseminating information among the members of the WFSJ and the Board. The Secretary of WFSJ will be responsible for these communications; the Treasurer will prepare and submit financial statements to the Board for transmission via the Secretary.
6.2 English is the standard language of use within the WFSJ.
Article 7: Finances
7.1 WFSJ income is derived primarily from membership fees. However, funds may be accepted from non-profit, non-political sponsors and donors, provided such donors do not interfere with the independence of the WFSJ.
7.2 The General Assembly decides the rates for membership fees and the appropriateness of sponsor and donor contributions, as well as the conditions under which such contributions will be accepted.
7.3 The Board may reduce or waive the membership fees of a member on request and will report this decision to the General Assembly.
7.4 All fees, dues, and contribution rates will be set in Euros; however, payments in national currencies will be accepted at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of payment.
Article 8: Dissolution
8.1 The WFSJ can be dissolved only by a three-fourths majority vote of all members.
8.2 In the case of WFSJ's dissolution, any assets remaining after legal and administrative obligations shall be distributed among the members.
Article 9: Activation
9.1 These articles of constitution, as presented on November 27, 2002, will enter into force when ratified by a minimum of six members.
9.2 For legal and administrative purposes, the WFSJ is officially located at the headquarters of the European Science Foundation (ESF) in Strasbourg, France.
São José dos Campos, Brazil
27 November 2002
The ad hoc Founding Committee:
Martin Yriart, Argentina / Spain
Ulysses Capozzoli, Brazil
Fabiola de Oliveira, Brazil
Jean-Marc Fleury, Canada
Véronique Morin, Canada
Jiang Yan, China
Lisbeth Fog, Colombia
Jens Degett, Denmark
Wolfgang Goede, Germany
Istvan Palugyai, Hungary
Darryl D’Monte, India
Kenji Makino, Japan
Mariko Takahashi, Japan
Fatima Amade, Mozambique
Prakash Khanal, Nepal
Werner Hadorn, Switzerland
James Cornell, USA
Jim Detjen, USA
The Executive Board:
Véronique Morin, Canada, President
Lisbeth Fog, Colombia, Vice-president
Werner Hadorn, Switzerland, Vice-president
Prakash Khanal, Nepal, Secretary
Mariko Takahashi, Japan, Treasurer
James Cornell, USA, At-large
Istvan Palugyai, Hungary, At-large
Jens Degett, Denmark, Executive Secretary