Wellcome Trust: Engaging Readers with Stories from the Brightest Minds

Monday, 17 February 2014
Comiskey (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Mark Henderson , Wellcome Trust, London, United Kingdom
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to driving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We do this by funding the brightest minds in biomedical science and the medical humanities, to the tune of approximately $1billion each year.

Our interest in biomedical science, however, isn't limited to research: we also think it is critical that society at large can engage with and discuss advances in biomedicine and their implications for us all. To that effect, we strive to promote public engagement with science, and its place in national and international conversation.

Compelling science writing that explains research and sets it in context for a general audience is a critical part of those conversations, but has faced increasing challenges as the mainstream media struggles to find sustainable business models in the face of the digital revolution. Many newspapers have cut back on science coverage, particularly the long-form feature material that is often best at exploring science in full detail.

But while digital has challenged traditional media, it has also created opportunities for new players. The Wellcome Trust is embracing these through the imminent launch of a new digital publication, Mosaic, which will publish long-form features about biomedical science and its impact on society. The aim will be to get behind subjects and explore them from different angles, and we are commissioning the best freelance writers we can find to do it. The features we publish won't be limited to Wellcome Trust funded research, but will encompass the most interesting conteporary stories in bioscience wherever they are.

The content will not only be free to read, it'll also be free to share. We are publishing under a Creative Commons Attibution licence (CC-BY), so that anyone else can take our content and republish it. We think this material is important, and we want it to find the broadest possible audience, and we don't mind if people read it in other publications.

In this talk, I will explore what we're doing, why the Wellcome Trust thinks it's important, and some of the issues we've faced as we explore an innovative science media model.