UK SCIENCE MEDIA CENTRE
The first Science Media Centre opened its doors in the UK in April 2002. The idea emerged after a year long House of Lords Inquiry into the state of science exposed the huge gulf between science and the media, especially on the big controversial stories hitting the headlines.
The Lords inquiry took place in the wake of the BSE scandal and alongside the breaking media furors over GM crops and the MMR vaccine. After a year hearing evidence from both scientists and journalists, the Lords committee concluded that a new initiative was needed to help scientists to engage more effectively in these breaking science stories. The concept of the Science Media Centre was born.
Under the dynamic leadership of Baronness Susan Greenfield, one of Britain’s best known science communicators, the Royal Institution took up the gauntlet, agreeing to host the new Centre and raise the initial funds.
While housed within the Royal Institution, the SMC always operated independently of any one scientific body and had its own governance structures and funding.
In the early years the SMC worked closely with journalists to develop the services which now form the staple of the SMCs around the world – including the rapid reaction to breaking stories, the ‘round-up’ of scientific opinion that put new research into context, and the press briefings which bring the best science to the media on the most topical controversies of the day.
Ten years on the SMC UK has established itself as a vital part of the science and media landscape in the UK. With over 2000 scientists on its database and used by every part of the UK’s national news media the SMC is widely acknowledged to have played a critical part in improving the quality of science coverage in the UK media.
In April 2011 the SMC began our 10th year by establishing the Centre as a registered charity in its own right. We moved into new premises in the Wellcome Trust and are now planning the Centre’s 10th anniversary in April 2012.
Funding: The UK SMC is funded through donations from a wide variety of organisations who support our goals. There are now over 80 funders representing the media, scientific institutions, science based companies and government.
To ensure the independence of the Centre all donations are capped at 5% of the Centre's annual running costs and the Centre is completely independent from its funders.