Journalists call for more collaboration with scientists in reporting

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

West African journalists have called for more collaboration with scientists in order to improve on the quality of coverage and reportage of science, technology and innovation issues for the benefit of the people.

Media practitioners from English-speaking West Africa said there is also a need to have more mentorship programmes in the sub-region where science journalists and scientists can work together in setting news agenda for reporting.

The journalists made these recommendations in a communiqué issued at the end of a three-day workshop organised by the Department of Education, Science and Culture of the Ecowas Commission for scientific journalists, researchers and scientists.

It was held at the Ecowas Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, on 10-12 October 2016 on the theme ‘Making Science and Innovation Information More Accessible for ECOWAS Development’.

In the two-page communiqué, the media practitioners recommended that there is a need to have a regional database of key researchers working in different critical areas of science. 

This would make it relatively easy for journalists to contact them as part of the solution to the weak communication gap between scientists and journalists.

In view of the dearth of capacity on the part of journalists to effectively communicate STI issues to the citizens, it was also recommended that there should be periodic capacity enhancement training for science journalists by Ecowas.

In addition, journalists with at least basic understanding of science journalism, as those trained by Ecowas, should work collaboratively with their national stakeholders to create greater interest and more regular informed reports on science.

The sub-regional authorities and other stakeholders are called upon to invest more in STI as a key driver to fight against poverty in West Africa.

In this vein, Ecowas is urged to initiate annual excellence awards for science journalists as a way of enticing journalists to do more in their coverage and reportage of STI.

There should be West African Science Journalists Network with each chapter in each member country, and journalists in the network should take advantage of the World Federation of Science Journalists free online course in science journalism.  

The implementation of the observations and recommendations in the communiqué, according to the West African journalists, would lead to an appreciable increment in the level of science journalism in the sub-region.

Author: Lamin Jahateh