DATA4CitSciNews was an event NEWSERA carried out in collaboration with fellow EU project ENJOI. The conference shined a light on the concept of citizen science journalism, the need for a new culture of data and the factors that favour the spread of misinformation.

On November 28, 2022, the NEWSERA and ENJOI teams came together in Barcelona, finally in person. Both of the projects, indeed, started just at the beginning or in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and much of the occasions to exchange ideas and debate new concepts have shifted online.

The two project coordinations, Rosa Arias and Elisabetta Tola, kickstarted DATA4CitSciNews greeting the audience and explaining the key concepts behind NEWSERA and ENJOI. There is a strong collaboration bewteen the two projects, both exploring engagement in science communication. While NEWSERA is focused on citizen science and its potential for communication to different stakeholders, ENJOI looks at engagement as the key to improve the quality of science journalism.

This is why the projects have a tight-knit community, sharing knowledge on how to improve science communication. In this event, NEWSERA and ENJOI joined forces to reflect together on how can we interconnect journalism and citizen science projects, with the help of a line-up of exceptional speakers and experts in the use of data and misinformation.


The speakers

Matteo Moretti,
Keynote: “Data Journalism – What’s new?”

The award-winning visual designer Matteo Moretti led a reflection on issues in the use of data and explained the true meaning of open data: it’s not just making data available, but democratizing it, spreading the culture of data and of critical thinking in the use of the internet and media in general. That’s why he proposes to improve data journalism by designing digital commons, available to journalists, policy makers, citizens. This means moving beyond the classic article, to make data really accessible to people by translating them through visuals and storytelling.
Some examples of this approach are the projects Glocal Climate Change (visualising the Copernicus data set on climate change), Mapping diversity (a tool to contribute and monitor inclusivity in street names) and Disabled Data (a dashboard that aggregates and reflects on data on disability in Italy).


Joana Gonçalves de Sá, Coordinator Social physics and Complexity Lab (SPAC)
Keynote: “Who believes in fake news? Misinformation as a model system to study behavior”

Joana Gonçalves de Sá’s current research uses experimental and computational methods (big data and complex systems) to study decision-making, mainly in policy and health.
During her speech, she explained that disinformation spreads like infectious diseases: that’s why we need to study the hosts (humans) and the environment in which it spreads (networks), to understand how to tackle the issue. Fighting misinformation, however, means also that we need to take some paradoxes into account: offering accurate information often does not help, and it might even make it worse.
We need to take into account the environment of social media, in its technical details, and the psychological aspects that drive the spread of untrue information, being it intentional (fake) or unintentional (false).


Roundtable: Advancing on the concept of citizen science journalism
Moderated by Elisabetta Tola

The panelists presented some examples of innovative projects that bring together data, transparency and community engagement.

Jacopo Ottaviani presented Mapping Makoko, a project mapping the informal settlements in Nigeria. The open data map is published in open street map and created with the engagement of locals. A project that aims to the transfer of knowledge about data and to create a relationship with local media.

Karma Peirò presented the work done by the Visualization for Transparency foundation. The fondation was founded in 2020, and in these two years has worked on new ways to give access to open data to citizens. For example, it has aggregated and published data on COVID vaccination in Spain and on the health impacts of air pollution.

Christoph Raetzsch talked about Infrapublics, a project that involves workshops to reflect on how people make sense of large scale phenomena (data being one of them). Infrapublic addresses a gap between journalism studies and smart city research, taking the datafication of urban spaces as an opportunity for journalism to go beyond the “informed citizen” model of its audience. The project maps and evaluates approaches to how journalists, citizens, cities, data providers and civic tech NGO’s work together on a local level to shape infrastructures for civic communication in the connected city.


Misinformation Recommendations for Citizen Science initiatives – Interactive Session
Marco Boscolo, NEWSERA Data journalism expert

During this interactive session, Marco Boscolo guided the speakers to go back at the concepts of data journalism and misinformation and discuss tips and suggestions to avoid misinformation when doing science journalism, data journalism and citizen science journalism.

The audience contributed to the discussion ranking the importance of different tips. “Publishing methodology and data following FAIR principles” was ranked first, followed by “Discussing existing gaps in knowledge and limitations of the scientific method”. Among a second round of tips, the most important was valued to be “Build trust relations with different stakeholders” and “Be open and transparent about your motivations and potential conflicts of interest”.


Visual Wrap Up and Closure

The last session of the day was conducted by visual and design thinker Edgar Sanjuán, who summed up the most important concepts emerged during the whole morning in an illustrated map.


In the afternoon, after the event, NEWSERA and ENJOI Labs took place, respectively dedicated to the co-creation of blueprints for science communication in data journalism and to the validation of Principles, Standards and Indicators for science journalism. In addition, the Communities of Practice of both projects participated in the opening of the DATA4CitSciNews exhibition at the Green Parrot, during the evening.


Watch the video on DATA4CitSciNews, produced by Science for Change and formicablu.

DATA4CitSciNews is an event created in partnership by EU-funded projects NEWSERA and ENJOI.
Read more about the programme

Watch the full conference on the NEWSERA YouTube channel


All photos by the NEWSERA consortium; images can be reused under the CC BY-SA-ND 4.0 license.