The 1960s: the emergence of scientific information in Quebec

This text is part of the section on 100 Years of Acfas

From the 1960s, technological developments and tsocial transformations Stimulating interest in science in Quebec. Led by Fernand Seguin, the movement towards science journalism stems from a desire to take a more critical view of science, but also to make it more accessible.

The history of scientific communication is closely connected with that of Fernand Seguin, the biochemist who gave his name to many schools, institutions, and other science journalism competitions. In the 1950s, he led a series of television programs devoted to spreading science. “Since the 1960s, Seguin has begun to look at science with a more critical view,” confirms Yannick Veldio, the show’s host. light years Radio Canada for 35 years.

This way of understanding the scientific world seeps into the world of media. Mr. Velido continues: “We then treat science like any other human activity by explaining it, by showing its extraordinary aspects, but also by observing it from a certain distance. It is a bit like the moment we move from communication to science journalism.” »

In this frenzy emerges one of the major players in the scientific information scene, the magazine Quebec Science. Before it became the publication we know today, it first existed under the name naturalist viator, and then Young naturalistthen produced by Clercs de Saint-Viateur of the Séminaire de Joliette, in the 1950s.

At the beginning of the following decade, in 1962, the French-Canadian Association for the Advancement of Science (Acfas) became the owner of the magazine, which it renamed. young worldAlways targeting a young audience. It wasn’t until 1969 that the up-and-coming University of Quebec Press acquired the magazine. baptized now Quebec Science, It is aimed at a wider audience of readers.

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Yanick Villedieu has collaborated with the famous magazine since its early years of existence. Alcoholism and sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, were among his first themes. “I was quickly fascinated by the scientific dimension – such as the effect of the alcohol molecule on the liver – along with the social and cultural aspect of these topics,” he says.

60 years of stories

the moment that Quebec Science Upon turning 60 in 2022, editor-in-chief Melissa Guillemte and her team immersed themselves in the archives. Some, such as the 1963 article by Roger Jess, a researcher in the Department of Biochemistry at Université Laval, have emerged about the danger of nicotine consumption. “Everyone was smoking at the time, and we were just starting to talk about the negative effects,” Melissa Gilmette says. This shows how Quebec Science He was able to provide answers even before he became mainstream. »

MI Guillemette also notes the frequent presence of dossiers on women, through the ages, and the evolution of the treatment of these subjects. For example, an article from the 1960s gives women a voice in the negative to answer this question: Do they really go to university to find a husband? Interest is more present than ever, since 2019, Quebec Science Acfas co-produced the podcast 20%, a series of interviews with women working in science. This percentage represents the number of women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in Canada.

Very early on, the environment was also part of the discussions in the editorial room and the magazine. “At all times, we talked about water and air quality, with a very critical eye,” Melissa Guillemet confirms.

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For the editor-in-chief, the journal still has the same mission to inform and arouse interest in science, but it is constantly evolving. “We try to be as engaged as possible with our readers,” she continues. Quebec Science You should always innovate and keep up with the times. »

birth of a generation

In this same surge of scientific curiosity, the Quebec Science Media Association was born in 1977. It marked the birth of a generation of science journalists, who quickly created the Science News Information Service, the predecessor of the Science and Press Agency. .

Its first director, Felix Maltes, wrote a youth column that was so successful that the project became an international movement under the name Lee Petit Debrews, It has become a very popular magazine trick in 1992.

For Yannick Veledo, who was part of that flow, science is now scattered all over the place, even in the daily papers, particularly through climate and health issues. He concludes, “Scientific journalism is also humane and public.” This is what makes it wonderful. »

His first interest in AIDS had already become a truly humanistic and professional research, culminating in the publication of the book. Mourning and light. AIDS storyin 2021.

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