"The Severo Ochoa awards are the 'European Champions League' of science"


Interview with JAVIER GREGORI
Specialist in Science and the Environment, Cadena SER


Javier Gregori is a specialist in Science and the Environment, and Works in the Cadena SER (the Spanish radio channel with the biggest audience) where he works as a science journalist. He will attend the “100XCIENCIA” forum which will be held on La Palma, with enthusiasm to share experiences with science journalists, and with those whom he himself has termed the “Crown Jewels of Spanish Science”, the representatives of the Severo Ochoa centres.


- Why did you specialize in environmental news?

“Because I think that it is the kind of news which is very interesting for society and has a great impact on our quality of life. I grew up watching documentaries by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and by commander (Jaques) Cousteau on television and I soon learned the importance of ecosystems for the lives of all human beings. As well as that, when I started out in radio there were hardly any journalists dedicated to this type of news, and I thought that it was a speciality with a great future in journalism”.


- Within science popularization, the environment has always been very much in demand as a speciality. Why?

“Because nature is seen as close by everybody, and because the problems which are destroying our natural resources, such as the contamination of the air and the water do affect all of us.”


- How has the debate about climate change affected the news in this area? Has it given opportunities to think more and talk more about these subjects?

“I think that the problem of climate change has shown the importance of journalists specializing in science and the environment, because it is a very complicated phenomenon, and needs good training and dedication”.


- What is the biggest environmental problem facing us?

“Climate change, undoubtedly, because it affects the whole planet. But there are others hardly less important, such as contamination of the water and the air in the big cities, because this is already causing the deaths of thousands of people. And we are not really aware of it”.


- How have the economic cuts affected environmental conservation? What will be the consequences of this?

“The cuts in public funding for nature conservation have been very substantial and will have extremely negative consequences because we are neglecting policies as important as the recycling of primary materials, the purification of sewage water, and the conservation of the forests and the plants and animals which inhabit them”.


- You were the first Spanish journalist to carry out a direct interview with the International Space Station before technology had advanced to where it is now. What was that experience like?

“When I was little I wanted to be an astronauta and maybe for that reason space exploration has always interested me. To interview the first Hispanic who was commander of the ISS was an honour and a responsibility because I tried to ask him the big questions which all “Earthlings” ask about the present and the future of human beings in space. It was also a complicated interview from the technical point of view, but as it all went very well I have excellent memories of it, and many listeners still remind me of it”.


- Do you think that in Spain enough importance is given to science popularization and specialized news?

“They have very limited coverage in the main media, above all on radio and television, which have the biggest audiences. But in my opinion they are different. Science journalism (or science news and information) is not popularization, although we do need to use this for many science news items because Spanish society has a low level of science culture in general. But the science journalist has to transmit news (in other words novelty which is relevant and interesting for society) while the popularizer can choose any topic in which he or she is specialized”.


- How do you judge the introduction of the Severo Ochoa awards?

“I think that they are the “European Champions’ League” of science, and so it is always fascinating to follow the scientific results they achieve”.


- This year the first edition of the Severo Ochoas comes to an end. Do you think that they should be renewed? If so, why?

“They must be renewed, absolutely, and with more funding because they are the crown jewels of Spanish science. And their work must be publicized”.


- How do you rate the “100XCIENCIA” forum which will be held on La Palma in the next few days?

“I think that it is a very interesting fórum because it will bring together a good number of the best scientists and science research centres, with the most important journalists and popularizers from the communications media. To share experiences is the best way to make progress that I know of”.


Coordination of interviews: Verónica Martín


Contact: info@100xciencia.com       Phone: +34 922605336; +34 660507549
100xCIENCIA Communicating Frontier Science. La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain), October 2015
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