At a glance

The Guardian
Autumn 2018 - Spring 2019
Project Type: 

The development of gene editing technology is starting to raise major questions for not just what we can do to edit our DNA, but what we should do. This technology has significant potential for addressing various genetic illnesses, but also poses serious ethical implications for what is acceptable to change.

The Guardian is keen to tell stories of public perspectives on gene editing as part of a process of journalism where the public are involved in the conversation from the start, and not just informed of decisions once they are made.

What we did

The Guardian, Wellcome Trust and Involve partnered with local community leads to design and run five facilitated workshops with communities in Birmingham, Cumbria, Hertfordshire, London and Manchester exploring their attitudes towards gene editing. These workshops focused on their perspectives on how gene editing technology might affect them and their communities. The groups of the public were from the farming community in Cumbria, a BAME group in Birmingham, young people in Manchester, biology students in London and a group of parents who have children with special educational needs in Hertfordshire. The exploration of these priorities and concerns is being used to identify new stories for the Guardian to share about gene editing and inform the broader conversation on the technology.

Project Aims

  1. To identify and recognise the legitimacy of different voices to tell stories which are different to normal science journalism

  2. To shift story identification and telling power away from established scientists to the public to recognise their perspectives and legitimacy of those perspectives.

  3. To pilot a different way of identifying stories

  4. To develop an open process for the public to inform journalism

What we hope to achieve

The aim of these workshops was to produce multimedia and print journalism which The Guardian will publish soon. These outputs will build on the perspectives given in the workshops to tell stories of various communities’ attitudes towards and experiences of gene editing. These outputs will not only be high quality content but will also demonstrate how science journalism can benefit from effectively engaging with the public on key issues.