Dear ASC’ers.
You may have read, as I did, in the Guardian that the future of the ABC’s premier magazine-format science show, Catalyst, is in question.   I’ve written to the ABC this morning that I think it is a poor decision to axe Catalyst.   I suspect ASCers will have various views, some passionately held, about the matter.  So, I thought I’d lay out my argument on the list.  If others feel like writing to the ABC, the General Manager is Michelle Guthrie who can be reached at 

While we at the ASC understand, perhaps better than others, the difficulty of producing quality science programming--especially of an investigative nature—we know that this is exactly what is needed in the Australian media landscape.  We know from research that Australian publics want more science—two national polls (most clearly the CPAS ANU poll) demonstrate that more science in popular programming is needed, not less.  It is also emerging as a hot button issue that ‘frontier’ science doesn’t get the attention it deserves.  Again, this is a difficult area for journalism—but that makes Catalyst valuable.  The ABC is a leader with this programming and despite difficulties with individual programs or journalists, Catalyst is an admired show.

 My main concerns are as follows:

1.     Catalyst tells stories of Australian science.  Where will those stories come from in the future?

2.     A large audience for science will be ‘set free’.  There are no guarantees that audiences familiar with the Catalyst magazine format will follow on to other formats or platforms.

3.     I am especially concerned that award winning journalists (including Jonica Newby, Graham Phillips, and Mark Horstmann) are being eclipsed in the current public discussion about one rogue journalist.   They are extraordinary talent and I hope that the ABC can continue to support such talent.

Kind regards,

Professor Joan Leach
Director, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science-
A Centre for the Australian National Commission for UNESCO
The Australian National University

President, Australian Science Communicators