With more than 2,600 entries, Buri is a news agency focused on science journalism, which collects and publishes studies and innovations in the field of science in various fields of knowledge, with content targeted to national media.
The platform, which has released nearly 450 scientific studies in advance, also conducts communication courses and trainings with the aim of bringing journalism closer to scientific knowledge, and has a bank of sources and researchers available to journalists.
Founded by Ana Paula Morales and Sabine Righetti in February 2020 – 15 days before the first case of Covid-19 in Brazil – Agência Bori is helping build a new paradigm in science journalism, in a period when journalistic information and unearthed science are becoming more allies against denial.
To O POVO, Ana Paula Morales, MD, Biomedicine and Master in Pharmacology, explains her course and talks about the importance of science journalism in the challenges of contemporary times.
Hey Poffo: Why did you decide to work with science journalism? Is this an area you’ve always selected?
Anna Paula – Science journalism entered my life when I decided, and, in fact, considered it necessary to communicate what was going on in science in Brazil to other people who were not involved in the practice of science in Brazil. This is because I am a coaching scientist.
I’m a biomedical doctor, with a master’s degree in pharmacology, and I’ve always enjoyed doing bench research, but I felt the need to talk more about science to those who weren’t part of this little world I was in, which was very restrictive. I saw that other people from my social role of my friends and family who didn’t do science were far from knowing what was going on in Brazil in the research institutions.
That’s when I went to take a graduate course in science journalism at Labjor at Unicamp/SP. I decided that I wanted to work with science communication, I didn’t know how to start and I thought the best way would be to study, since I had no education or training in this field, so I went to take a postgraduate course. From this major, I entered the world of science journalism, and I have not left it since then. I ended up changing my career path from researcher to science journalist since then.
Sabine, the other founder of Puri with Me, is a trained journalist. She had always been interested in the sciences, and once she finished her undergraduate degree in journalism, she also went to graduate school. We are of different classes, but it was through Labor that we met and became friends. Life has taken many turns. We worked together, each one went his own way and then we decided to work together again and decided, right after that, to start the Puri Agency.
Oh Buffo: How important is Carolina Bure to you and why was she the inspiration for the agency’s name?
Anna Paula – In addition to being a brilliant researcher, she has also been very involved, during her career, with national science issues in general, not just in her area of expertise, and was the first woman to chair the SBPC, the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science. We thought honoring her was very symbolic and important, in fact, as a tribute to all Brazilian female researchers, because Puri is a two-woman initiative.
O POVO: How do you work to bring scientific research closer to the people, as language is sometimes not very accessible?
Anna Paula – We created Puri exactly for that, to bring science closer to society, but we do it through journalism. Agência Bori is a platform aimed at Brazilian journalists. We map everything that is produced in National Science before it is published and select some studies for publication based on certain criteria.
People: What scientific developments and innovations are taking place today in Brazil that the population is still unaware of?
Anna Paula – It is very important to bring science into people’s daily lives, as well as to be aware of what comes out of the latest research specifically from a research group. The idea is that science is part of people’s lives, and that they find articles on a daily basis, not only in the science section, but throughout the newspaper, with references about what is being done in the field, or what researchers are experts. On this subject and what is the scientific evidence on this subject. This ranges from health, and the environment, to economy and sport, everything.
I think it’s important for people to be aware of some of the specific studies. We have many areas in which Brazil is conducting cutting-edge research, health is one of them, and in the environment we have a lot of cutting-edge research and Brazil is the reference, the food part as well. It’s important for people to have contact with these topics, but also to know them on a daily basis, to get a sense of how science works.
Oh Buffo: How has the pandemic changed the relationship between journalism and science?
Anna Paula – The pandemic has certainly brought science into the spotlight of the population through the press. From a journalism standpoint, we had many journalists who were covering the pandemic, but they hadn’t been associated with science or researchers before, so that was a curious point.
We launched Puri exactly 15 days before the first case of covid in Brazil. We expected, at first, that journalists who had already covered science would sign up with Puri and use our material, but we wanted to pass it on to other departments and other journalists as well.
With the pandemic, this happened much faster than we expected, precisely because journalists who were still unaccustomed to talking about science felt the need to speak up. The pandemic has imposed this need to talk about science. Many journalists have signed up to Puri for precisely this reason. We became a national science show.
One much-discussed aspect is how to report something that might be a factor of concern to the population in some way, and this is an orientation that even academic research suggests: it should be as transparent as possible.
If you are alerting the population about a potential danger, and if the population is consuming that information, they feel safer to face it. It’s not just a matter of anxiety, because information is power, including for people to feel safe even if the topic itself is fraught with danger.
Hey Poffo: Do you think that science will have an increasing value to the population of Brazil?
Anna Paula – I hope so. I hope and am optimistic to believe it, despite the great wave of scientific denial that we have seen and continue to see in Brazil, which began even before the pandemic, with the discrediting of research institutions, universities and researchers. At the same time, the topic fell into people’s daily lives.
O POVO: What impressed you about working at Bori during these three years on the job?
Anna Paula – I can mention some cases, but in general, what distinguishes us is that many of the studies that we expected of the press and that appeared through the press had a direct impact on the political field.
This information being used for public policy is a very interesting thing. We have some cases. There have been some studies on public administration and working with frontline professionals during the pandemic that we have released through Buri that have hit the press and ended up supporting our Covid CPI as well as decisions of health boards and departments.
There was another study we expected for the press that was very technical, about gas extraction techniques. The study showed that a certain technology can cause small earthquakes in Manaus, and this will have a very large financial and environmental impact on the region. This research had a lot of ramifications mainly for local compounds in the North and ended up influencing action by the Ministry of Mines and Energy on gas extraction.
There was a recent case at the end of 2022, a study on digital biohacking of bees. Bees are very important to agriculture. This study also had ramifications and there was discussion of a bill in the National Congress specifically to regulate the commercialization of some bee species native to Brazil.
After the fallout from the press, these illegal ads drawn by the study were banned by digital platforms. This information was also used for that.
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