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Science, disclosure and reading

The editorial movement in Brazil surrounding scientific disclosure has grown considerably over the last few years if we observe, and if not other indicators, the number of books and magazines and the editorials and special pages of major journalism dedicated to this issue.

Perhaps the most important reference is the creation, in 1949, of the magazine Ciência e Cultura [Science and Culture], idealized by José Reis and by the group of researchers who had founded the SBPC during the previous year. The permanence of the magazine and its continuity for fifty-six years, during at least three phases of consequent editorial evolution, is testimony to this movement. And its conviction, presented during the first edition, is maintained, updated and present in the objectives of those who work in journalism and in scientific diffusion. The magazine defines itself as a vehicle of disclosure not only of scientific knowledge, but of data relative to the projection of this knowledge in society. Today Ciência e Cultura has a print run of 25,000 copies that covers its circulation for sales, subscriptions and institutional distribution.

In 1982, the magazine Ciência Hoje [Science Today] was launched, again from the SBPC, and today has a print run of 15,000 copies – whose success led to the creation in Argentina of Ciencia Hoy. Next to Ciência Hoje para Crianças [Science Today for Children], with 200,000 copies, the magazine constituted a mark for the consolidation of scientific diffusion in the country. Both are also sold, have subscriptions and are distributed to institutions. Still with the SBPC, the Jornal da Ciência [Science Journal] and the JC e-mail deal with science and technology policies, and play a strong role in the mobilization of the academic community.

Starting from the experience of an information bulletin, that began in 1995, the magazine Pesquisa FAPESP evolved in October of 1999, today with a print run of 44,000 copies of which almost 20,000 of the circulation is through sales and subscriptions, and 24,000 via institutional distribution. Recognized for its graphical and editorial quality, the magazine is indispensable reading for accompanying scientific and technological production in São Paulo and in the country, and is directed towards the media and the daily reader interested in the area.

In 1999 there was the launch by the Advanced Studies in Journalism Laboratory (Labjor) at Unicamp, the electronic magazine ComCiência [With Science] (www.comciencia.com.br), which shortly afterwards, in the following year, would become yet another publication of the SBPC with an expressive number of readers. In 2001 there were 392,000 accesses to the site site; in 2002 a further 1.1 million; and during 2003 almost 2.2 million.

Specialized in science, technology and application, as it is defined, the Scientific American magazine has fifteen international editions, one hundred and fifty nine years of history, and began to be published in Brazil in June of 2002, which confirms the movement of the widening of the editorial interest of the public about the theme.

During 2003,the FAPESP Agency (www.agencia.fapesp.br), whose slogan “Disseminating scientific culture” expresses very well its fidelity towards the dynamics of the relationships between science and society by news and national and international information about the production and policies of the sector, was established. In little more than a year, the Agency accumulated more than 25,000 subscribers and its site receives more than 8,000 visits per day.

If one also takes into consideration the editorials and science pages in newspapers and magazines, the electronic pages such as those of Ciência em Dia [Updated Science], the most popular publications such as Superinteressante [Super Interesting] and Galileu [Galileo], as well as the programs on radio and television, then one would have a measure that is more just and optimistic about the growing presence of the theme in the life of society. Today perhaps it is possible to estimate the number of people at 5 million – close to 2.5% of the Brazilian population – that in one form or another read issues related to S&T.

In this manner the project “Our Daily Science”, which Pesquisa FAPESP is proposing to develop with the State Department of Education, besides being a way to mobilize young high school student in public education to have a love for science – the young science fan –, is also a form of effective action for the creation of a scientific culture in the young, which positively inclines them to a friendship for knowledge, and for knowledge as a friend of reason and understanding, both from the technical and social points of view.

Taking the material published by Pesquisa FAPESP as a reference for handbooks that are more didactic, but no less agreeable, for teachers and students, the project should work in conjunction with more than 11,000 teachers and involve 6 million students. As a consequence, the diameter of scientific culture spiral will be broadened and the base of young readers with an interest directed towards questions pertaining to knowledge and its relationship with society will be widened. Thus FAPESP is emphasizing its institutional mission of supporting research and spreading knowledge produced by the actions of its development programs.

Carlos Vogt is a poet and linguist, FAPESP’s President, the coordinator of the Advanced Studies in Journalism Laboratory (Labjor) of Unicamp and Vice-President of the SBPC