The founding team of Matter —The Science section of EL PAÍS— has won the first edition of the CSIC-BBVA Foundation for Scientific Communication Award, endowed with 40,000 euros, for representing “a differential commitment to scientific communication from Spain that is comparable to the science sections of the major international media ”, according to the jury.
Matter was born in 2012 as an independent scientific information project, founded by seven specialized journalists: Patricia Fernández de Lis, Nuño Domínguez, Manuel Ansede, Daniel Mediavilla, Francisco Doménech, Javier Salas and Miguel Ángel Criado. In 2014, Matter was associated with the newspaper EL PAÍS to be its Science section. The jury for the award has valued “the extraordinary quality of scientific journalism that they have exercised since their foundation, which over the last decade has made them the world benchmark for science communication in Spanish”.
The Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) —the largest public body dedicated to science in Spain— and the BBVA Foundation have created this new award to “recognize the best contributions to the dissemination of science in Spain”, according to its bases. Two prizes will be awarded each year, one to specialized journalists and the other to researchers. In this first edition, more than a hundred applications have been submitted. In the scientific category, the winners were the immunologist Alfredo Corell, from the University of Valladolid; the virologist Margarita del Val, from the CSIC; the neurovirologist José Antonio López Guerrero, from the Autonomous University of Madrid; the microbiologist Ignacio López-Goñi, from the University of Navarra; and the epidemiologist Antoni Trilla, from the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, ”for becoming the voice of science since the beginning of the pandemic, transmitting scientific knowledge about this threat in a language accessible to the general public.”
The jury, headed by the president of the CSIC, applauds the combination of “the rigor of the most solid scientific sources with an accessible, attractive and innovative language”
The jury has assessed that the work of Matter “It has been characterized by critical journalism, which is not limited to announcing discoveries, but rather contextualizes them and underlines both the strengths and limitations of current science.” The act also holds that the founders of Matter “They have managed to combine the rigor of the most solid scientific sources with an accessible, attractive and innovative language, which takes advantage of the full potential of new multimedia narratives to reach large audiences both in Spain and throughout the Spanish-speaking world.”
In this decade of work, Matter has made a special effort to report from the field, showing for example the effects of global warming in Antarctica, the real causes of death from the autopsy rooms in Mozambique, the black market for fossils in Morocco and the computer revolution quantum scientists from Google and IBM laboratories in the US In 2018, journalist Raúl Limón joined the team of Matter and today it is an essential pillar of the Science section of EL PAÍS.
Since the beginning of 2020, the group has focused on trying to offer rigorous and contrasted information on the covid pandemic, interviewing many of the main protagonists in the global fight against the virus, such as Katalin Karikó, mother of RNA vaccines; Lidia Morawska, the scientist who helped reveal the airborne transmission of the coronavirus; Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust; and Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Together with the EL PAÍS Visual Narratives team, Matter has opted for new formats to explain the pandemic: exhaustive explanations on the airborne transmission of the coronavirus (such as the most widely read topic in the newspaper’s history: “A lounge, a bar and a class: this is how the coronavirus spreads in the air”) , visual radiographs of outbreaks in offices, restaurants and buses and detailed graphics on the RNA molecule, the different types of vaccines, the fight between the immune system and the coronavirus, the projects to develop a Spanish vaccine, the mutations of the virus and the singularities of the pathogen genome (such as its letters ccu cgg cgg gca).
The evaluation committee for the CSIC-BBVA Foundation for Scientific Communication Awards and Grants has been chaired by Rosa Menéndez, president of the CSIC, and made up of Rafael Pardo, director of the BBVA Foundation; Jesús Marco, vice president of Scientific Research of the CSIC; Rosina López, vice president of Organization and Institutional Relations of the CSIC; Abel Grau, Head of Communication of the CSIC; Pablo Jáuregui, Director of Scientific and Environmental Communication of the BBVA Foundation; and Caty Arévalo, environmental correspondent for the Efe Agency.
In addition to the awards, the young journalists Ana Iglesias, Leyre Flamarique and Lucía Casas have received the first three CSIC-BBVA Foundation for Scientific Communication grants, which will allow them to spend a year in CSIC laboratories. Each of these grants is endowed with 35,000 euros.