Scientific council: Government to be informed of recommendations first

Toivo Maimets (center, standing) presenting the new scientific council to members of the government.
Toivo Maimets (center, standing) presenting the new scientific council to members of the government. Source: Stenbock House

The government's new scientific council is starting its work from Monday and is planning to share less of the discussions with the media and stay away from specific opinions regarding the restrictions.

Communication is represented as a completely new area in the council led by professor Toivo Maimets, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

Triin Vihalemm, a professor of communications at the University of Tartu, said that the government will hear the council's recommendations first, after which they will be revealed to the public.

Vihalemm has studied how to reach different target groups with messages and said that the Russian audience, for example, prefers networked communication to mass media. "It does not mean that I will discuss the matter in social media or with my neighbors, but different, somewhat unexpected officials are important too. Even teachers, rescuers, social workers, doctors," Vihalemm said.

She said that her main role in the council currently has been forming how the council members will communicate with the public. This is where the main difference occurs compared to the previous council led by virology professor Irja Lutsar.

For example, council member Andres Merits criticized the government's decisions and expressed his opinion in the media, but the virology representative of the new council Margus Varjak is not planning to do that.

"The previous council interacted a lot with the media, which in itself was very nice. But now what do we want? We want to keep a more coherent line so that there are clearer messages, more specific messages. /.../ Decisions are still made by the government and it is our job to advise the government. We do not plan to start commenting on who said what," Varjak said.

Unlike the previous council, the new one does not intend to publish its recommendations until they have passed the government table. "But still, this recommendation will be made public later as a document, and the reasons why these recommendations have been given, science-based reasons, the members of the scientific council are also ready to share them," Vihalemm said.

The council will give its first recommendations to the government in the coming week.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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