el pais

'Futuro': Because Science Is The Only News

One of the successful projects that have come about as a result of the Diffusion Network is the Futuro supplement produced by members SciDevNet and Materia (El Pais’ Science section). Here, the Materia team tell us a bit more about Futuro.

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By Patricia Fernández de Lis and Francisco Domenech, Materia

The Futuro Supplement emerges from the observation of a reality: more and better scientific information is needed in newspapers. Materia, the science section of the newspaper EL PAÍS, and SciDev.Net, which publishes scientific information from and for Latin America, have decided to join forces to produce this supplement, which is intended to be published once a month. The goal is to develop specialised information on topics related to science, the environment, technology and health, especially oriented toward the interests of Latin American readers. The layout of the supplement will be flexible, but will always open with a long article, followed by a page of brief news and an interview, and the last page will be dedicated to presenting great Latin American researchers, both men and women.

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Materia came into being in 2012 as an independent project to present rigorous scientific information in an attractive and entertaining manner. In 2014, the project was integrated into EL PAÍS, the most widely read Spanish-language newspaper. Today, Materia is a leader in providing scientific information in Spanish, with millions of monthly readers and more than a million followers on social networks. In 2015, the site won the Prisma Prize, the most prestigious recognition in Spain in this field, for being "a benchmark of scientific journalism," according to the jury's decision. With Futuro, and with the collaboration of SciDev.net, Materia wants to help Latin American newspapers recognise scientific information as being an integral part of their offering to readers because, after all and as Stewart Brand has said, "Science is the only news."

We're Now The Diffusion Network - Progress From Our London and Madrid Workshops

A social video wall in the office of El Pais in Madrid. Image: El Pais. 

A social video wall in the office of El Pais in Madrid. Image: El Pais. 

At our first workshop in London in September 2017, we started to get to know each other as members of the network; we learnt about our unique advantages and disadvantages as publishers, and started thinking about our media experiments.

Samia Saad from the Gates Foundation introduced us to the work of the Foundation and Gates' focus on global health and food security. 

We also had Nic Newman (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford), Bobbie Johnson (who had past lives at Medium and the Guardian and is now founder of Anxy Mag), and Tristan Ferne (BBC R&D lab) come and speak to us. Nic took us through his Journalism, Media and Technology Trends and Predictions, Bobbie spoke to us about his life as a media entrepreneur, and Tristan took us through some of his research on digital story formats for news

By February 2018, when we had our next workshop in Madrid (kindly hosted by member of the network Patricia Fernàndez de Lis at the offices of El Pais, with an excellent tour around the building as well), we'd started getting traction with syndication. We also had inspiration in the form of presentations from Gabe Stein (co-founder & CEO of Massive Science) and Sam Rigby (Deputy Growth Editor at Quartz). These presentations helped shape our discussions on the second day of the workshop, when we explicitly decided the two key audiences for our work as a network: syndicators (large publishers) and potential new members

For syndicators, we were clear that we wanted to build and manage relationships with syndication partners - over the last few months this has led to our content being syndicated in English in Quartz, Scroll.in, Huffington Post India, Hacking Finance and The Next Web, and in Spanish in El Pais. We also discussed using technology and data in interesting ways to measure our impact, using Massive Science's chatbot as inspiration. If you're a large publisher who would like to syndicate our content, let us know

For potential new members, we decided a good way to build our talent pipeline was by creating a strong new brand. You may recall that we launched as the Science Syndication Network, but after some discussion and debate with the members of the network, we decided that 'Diffusion' was a better description of what we wanted to do. And as part of that objective, you're now looking at our brand new website. If you're a science publication interested in becoming a member of our network, reach out!

We're also keen, as small publishers, to improve our craft and editorial process. Towards this end, we're working on specialist conference calls with experts to help us become better as publications and as a network. 

Lots more to come, stay tuned!