By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Jos – Science journalism has been described as solution journalism hence science journalists should ensure their work take centre stage in African journalism to make meaningful impacts and engender the continent’s development.
Jackie Okpara-Fatoye, of SciDev.Net, stated this at a webinar, “Beyond S/He Said: Basics of reporting in the context of scientific research,” where she urged journalists to show more interest in public health and science even as she gave guidelines on how to get good science-related stories.
Speaking on “Going beyond ‘he said’ to report development issues in the context of science/research,” at the webinar organized by the Development Communications Network, DevComs in its Africa Science Journalism Webinar Series, Okpara-Fatoye noted, “Science Journalism is a specialized field and an integral part of journalism, which should take the centre stage in African Journalism.
“Science stories are not necessarily the most explosive but have one of the greatest impacts and many problems can be found in research papers as well as their solutions. Science journalism is solution journalism, interest in public health and science matter.”
Another discussant, Paul Adepoju, a Science writer, who spoke on Reflections on reporting science, public health and research, lessons from COVID-19 pandemic science to the public: The need for knowledge-based reporting; charged the participants to be more prepared in their response to epidemics and the dissemination of fact-based information to the public.
He tasked journalists to “be open-minded,” encouraging that “science stories can make front pages in as much as they are touching the lives of people.”
However, Akin Jimoh of the Development Communications Network, DevComs explained that the theme of the Webinar series was necessitated by findings that showed, among others, the lack of coherent science journalism desks in media houses, and the lack of collaborations between scientists and the media.
He called for an all-encompassing approach to science journalism to ensure public understanding of science and public health issues.
Participants including a former Vice President of the World Federation of Science Journalists, Diran Onifade, stated the webinar provided a platform for enhancing the collaboration among the media, scientists and the public for the development of science on the continent.
He stressed that looking at society, issues of food security, climate change, energy crisis, insecurity and the likes abound which require scientific attention; and called on journalists to deeply explore the areas.
His words, “We can’t just be heading wherever the grants are taking us, because to every grant, there is a string attached. How can we set our agenda, as journalists and as media organizations, to nudge society research-wise and through some other means in this direction of areas that have become existential for Africa?”