Thanks to fellowships offered by the Swedish Foundation for Knowledge and Competence (KK Foundation), nine Swedish public information officers and science Ph.Ds interested in public communications will get a first-hand look this fall at the operation of several online services that specialize in linking journalists to expert sources. The program is designed to encourage the development of a Swedish Internet-based expert network that may be connected with existing networks in the U.S. (i.e. ProfNet), U.K. (ExpertNet, operated by the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals) and Germany (Expertdienst Wissenschaft).
"We want to help Swedish universities and journalists find new modes of cooperation," said David Nordfors, KK Foundation research director, noting that the foundation is also sponsoring, at Stockholm University's School of Journalism, a special course for reporters on the use of the Internet in research. "When these journalists and our fellows find each other, journalism might take a big leap forward in our country."
When the fellows return they may create a Swedish expert network and perhaps link it to the existing networks, Nordfors noted. "But how they do it is up to them." Colleges and universities participating in ProfNet, the oldest and largest of the expert networks with more than 4,500 participating institutions, will host four fellows:
-- Boston University -- Tina Zethreus, press officer for Uppsala University and former journalist for Swedish National Radio. "The initiative of the KK Foundation is really foresighted," said Zethreus. "Swedish universities have lots of services for the media, but lack the established nationwide services you find here in the U.S. I am deeply impressed by ProfNet's system for fast media inquiries, the variety of electronic distribution services such as Ascribe and PR Newswire, and web sites such as EurekAlert that provide up-to-the-minute news to the research community."
-- Clarkson University (Potsdam, N.Y.) -- Ingela Bjorck, freelance journalist and part-time employee of the public relations department at Linkoping University. "My aim is to study the communication between the universities and the local and national mass media," Bjorck said. As a sideline, she will also look into Clarkson's alumni activities, "a field that's new to Swedish universities but where Clarkson and other American universities have wide and valuable experience."
-- Monterey Institute of International Studies (Monterey, Calif.) -- Marit Andersson, former journalist and current press officer for Umea University. "I am convinced that we need something similar to ProfNet in Sweden in order to help journalists find their way to the experts," said Andersson. "The queries are a great tool to accomplish that. I do hope that we will see a Swedish service within a very short time."
-- University of Texas-Houston - Jorun Fahle, press officer for Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg. "I appreciate the opportunity to study how news managers at the Health Science Center make use of the media services and look forward to the possibility of introducing some type of media service in Sweden like those we can find in the U.S.," said Fahle. "I am also looking into the other services offered by ProfNet and other media services to suggest how they can best be used for the purposes of the Health Science Center [at the University of Texas-Houston].
" In addition, ProfNet's central office on in East Setauket, Long Island, will host Cecilia Grevby a former scientist for Göteborg University. "The Swedish parliament has decided that our scientists, in addition to research and teaching, should also produce research information to the society outside the university," said Grevby. "We are three fellows with a scientific background, and we want to bring into the discussion how the scientist looks at this project, and try to understand how American scientists work with the media."
Others participating outside the U.S. are:
For more information, contact David
Nordfors of the KK Foundation, +46-708-371441.