Demography for Journalists
Improvement of the knowledge of journalists about the most important topics of contemporary demography
Raising awareness and spreading knowledge concerning the demographic challenges faced by the Serbian society via media is an important part of spreading information in general among the general, but also wider professional public, as well as among the decision-makers. Very often, even the most basic demographic phenomena are incorrectly or distortedly interpreted in the public space, due to the lack of knowledge, or the prejudices that journalists have concerning these issues.
Media interpretations of demographic challenges (such as low birth rate, emigration, depopulation and population aging), are usually placed in a catastrophic or utterly pessimistic context which is, as a rule, accompanied with counterintuitive “examples from everyday life”. This utterly simplistic and instrumentalised media picture causes incorrect opinions in the majority of citizens when the demographic challenges are concerned.
Therefore, even the best proactive population policy measures based on scientific research may be incorrectly perceived by the target groups, and seem inadequate or insufficiently important to the decision-makers.
As a part of implementing the Programme of stimulating activities by scientific and professional societies to improve scientific research, promotion and popularisation of science and technology of the Centre for the Promotion of Science, in December 2012, the Centre for Demographic Research of the Institute of Social Sciences organised a seminar for journalists who dealt with the topics in the field of contemporary demography and the related social phenomena.
The lectures and discussions were participated in by the selected journalists of the leading electronic and printed media in the country. The journalists received an opportunity to perceive the most current topics in the field of demography from the researchers’ perspective which is glaringly absent from public discourse, yet which places today’s demographic challenges in a wider context, taking into account their in-depth impetuses and a clearly scientifically-based perspective.
In addition to the researchers from the ISS’s Centre for Demographic Research, the lectures and discussions at the seminar were participated in by the managers of the Department of Demography and Population Census Unit of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia.
Influence on the improved media interpretation of population phenomena in Serbia, which would (after regular annual seminars, or similarly themed workshops) contribute to the establishment of a positive public opinion concerning the relevant demographic issues. This would enable decision-makers to implement the measures of population policy more efficiently in Serbia, and would generally result in the creation of a model for education of media representatives, which would be applicable in building a knowledge-based society.
Transition to an affirmative and measured approach to the delicate issues arising from the complex mechanism lying in the foundations of contemporary demographic processes would be the first step towards a long-term goal – to create a positive population climate in Serbia. Another improvement in creating public perception of demographic challenges would be raising awareness of the fact that in population policy, there are no solutions that bring quick results.