To bring journalists and scientists together and strengthen scientific journalism in Egypt – that was the aim of the cooperation between the Goethe-Institute and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) taking place 1st-2nd of October 2017

Why should ordinary people care about your study?” asks Kerstin Hoppenhaus. “What is new about it? And why is it relevant for the public?”

It is the 1st of October, a Sunday morning. In DAAD premises 10 scientists came together. Their goal: To get more public attention for their research, to create awareness of their studies and to inform the public about their results. Therefore, they take part in the project “Science Journalism” which is a cooperation between the Goethe-Institute and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Kerstin Hoppenhaus is a scientific journalist herself and conducts the training today. She knows how difficult it can be to bring scientists and journalists together. “The biggest challenge is the lack of mutual trust”, she says. “And sometimes they just do not speak the same language. Scientists do not know what journalists need to write their story. That is what we train today: To sum up scientific research in terms that are newsworthy for journalists.”

Meanwhile a group of 11 journalists is sitting together in SEKEM Farm in the Nile Delta. They are the counter part to the group of scientists preparing themselves separately for meeting the scientists the second day. “I would like to write more articles about scientific research in Egypt” one of the journalist says. “But therefore, I need more contacts to scientists, I need sources I could trust.”

The next day both groups meet. It is the scientists task now to present their studies in a way that pulls the journalists interest. “I am studying the impact of our lifestyle on the health of our genes” starts Dr Rasha Aref, a geneticist from Ain Shams University. “What do you mean by that exactly?”, one of the journalists asks. “Everything we get in contact with in everyday life could affect the health of our genes,” she explains. “Things that we eat for example could wake up little monsters in our genes that could harm us in the long term.” With that explanation she suddenly draws all the attention of the journalists. In the end Kerstin Hoppenhaus has to stop the lively discussion to not run out of time.

At the end of the day the first aim of the workshop is reached. The communication gap is gone. Pairs of journalists and scientists sit together and discuss. Ideas for articles are framed, business cards exchanged. Dr-Eng Hisham Elsafti who is studying how the climate change affects the coastal areas around Alexandria is still trying to convince his counterpart about the importance of his research. If they will be able to stop the process the journalists asked. “No,” says the Coastal Engineering Specialist. “But if your house is going to fall I will help you to build a tent.”

Until November the participants of the workshop have now time to produce a scientific article and publish it in the media. Then the final conference will be held and the best article will be announced.