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Tribute to Christina Scott RIP

October 31, 2011 posted in Sci.Journalism 27 comments >>
Hamba Khale, Christina

Christina Scott, South Africa’s premier radio and TV science journalist has died tragically in a motor car accident, aged 49. A champion of science journalism, a science communicator, editor, author, mentor, trainer, devoted mother and much admired and loved colleague, she died while doing what she did best, helping others. Christina was giving driving lessons and was just shy of her 50th birthday.

“Short, stroppy reporter with a funny accent. Likes to eat sushi. No head for alcohol and caffeine addiction” is how Canadian-born Christina chose to introduce herself when applying to join an online science network. Her sense of humour, warmth, intelligence, wackiness and ability to cut through the jargon made her a brilliant science journalist, ensuring her a place in many hearts.

From 1994 to 2004 Christina was science editor at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) for both TV and radio. At the time of her death she was presenter of the popular weekly Science Matters programme on SAFM and managing editor of Research Africa. A woman of substance, she was widely read making her an incisive interviewer, always getting to the core of the matter but in an engaging and friendly manner. Whether she was talking to an astrophysicist about space or a zoologist about velvet worms she was able to make all scientists feel at ease, getting the best from them. One scientist recalls that being interviewed by her was “like being part of a dinner conversation. You would seamlessly go into the interview without realising that the mike was live and you were on air. That is the way it should be”.

What she lacked in height, she made up for in irrepressible energy and her passion for spreading the word of science into every home in South Africa and Africa from shacks to mansions, made her a foremost science communicator and science advocate.

She was concerned about the lack of science literacy in Africa and the impact this had on ordinary people. Consequently, she reached out to young science journalists, either in print or broadcast, taking them under her wing, encouraging and mentoring them. Christina was an active member of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) and mentored African science journalists under the federation’s first SjCOOP between 2006 and 2009. Always leading from behind and with generosity of spirit, she wondered whether “she was mentoring reporters in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria” or whether it was the “other way round and they were mentoring me”.

As Sub-Saharan editor for the online science news and feature service SciDev.Net , her influence rippled across Africa and internationally. She wanted the voice of women scientists heard loud and clear. Outspoken and driven, she complained of constantly being dished up “white male” scientists to interview. She gave women scientists in Africa a platform.

Christina was the founding vice-president of the SA Science Journalism Association and its second president, and it was her wish and motivation that South African editors be lobbied to cover more science stories. She was on the advisory committee of Scifest and chaired several sessions at science conferences, notably the recent 6th Science World Congress in Cape Town. She also attended the recent Science Journalism conference in Doha giving of her experience and expertise.

Once when asked what languages she spoke, she answered in her inimitable style: English, some French, ngi khuluma isiZulu en 'n bietjie Afrikaans - warm and witty but also an insight into her ability to embody the different cultures in SA and her own heritage. Ever respectful, she made a point of greeting people in their own language.

By nature, Christina was an activist and started journalism in South Africa tackling the apartheid government and police and “when there was no one left to fight” she turned her attention to science, a topic she loved and on which she has left an indelible mark.

Christina never gave up on her convictions and therefore it was no surprise, to see her dressed in red, joining the anti-Secrecy Bill march in Cape Town to ensure South Africa’s hard won struggle for a free media remains intact.Once when she arrived at a media event, while working for SABC, she went over to the registration desk to get her name tag. “I’m Christina Scott,” she said. The man behind the table replied, having only ever heard her on radio, “No, you’re not Christina Scott. Christina Scott’s tall!”
She will remain a giant in our hearts.

She leaves her three children Nozipho 19, Alexandra 13, and Benjamin 9.

Farewell

Hamba Khale

Christina

Her achievement include:

Christina holds a degree in English literature from the University of Alberta and a Masters degree in media studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

She authored the book: Nelson Mandela: A force for freedom.

Christina won many awards including the 2007 TWAS prize for public understanding and popularising science.

In 2005 she was co-winner of the reporting microfinance award from the Inter Press Service news agency and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

In 2000 she was awarded a Jack E. Scripps science journalism fellowship from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA and in 1999 she won the CSIR science and technology award for radio.
 



Christina Scott: Africa's foremost science journalist dies.

Acclaimed South African science journalist, Christina Scott has died in a tragic auto accident in Capetown, South Africa.

Until her unfortunate death on October 31st 2011, Christina was the managing editor at Research Africa, Cape Town, South Africa. She was a stalwart of African science journalism, an author, broadcaster and journalist of repute. Christina hosted the weekly Science Matters programme on South Africa’s main national English-language station, SAfm.

She was the President of the South Africa Science Journalists Association (SASJA) between 2009 and 2010 and a strong force in the African Federation of Science Journalists. She was previously the Sub-Saharan editor for SciDev.Net between 2007 and 2009 and between 1994 and 2004 was the science editor at the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation.

She was an active member of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) where she mentored a crop of African science journalists under the Federation’s first SjCOOP between 2006 and 2009.

Reacting to the sad news, Nigeria’s Diran Onifade, president of the African Federation of Science Journalists said: “I haven’t heard anything this horrible in a long while. Christina (Get-On-The-Bus) Scott was too energetic to be imagined lifeless. Even in our grief, let’s not forget that she was THE foremost African science journalist and we should honour her memory as such.”

Kenyan journalist Kimani Chege, a former mentee of Christina’s said: “You really mentored me well..Science journalism is nothing without you. RIP great friend and teacher.”

Christina holds a degree in English literature from the University of Alberta and a Masters degree in media studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

She authored the book: Nelson Mandela: A force for freedom.

Christina Scott won many awards during her life time and this include the 2007 TWAS prize for public understanding and popularizing science. In 2005 she was co-winner of the reporting microfinance award from the Inter Press Service news agency and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. In 2000 she was awarded a Jack E. Scripps science journalism fellowship from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA and in 1999 she won the CSIR science and technology award for radio.

She’s survived by 3 children and aged mother.

Article first published on AfricaSTI: Christina Scott: Africa’s foremost science journalist dies.









Comments
I'm really touched
posted on December 12, 2011 by  Georgina Quaittoo
It's sad to hear of the sudden death of Christina Scott. Though I don't know her personally, the testimonies I've read so far prove that we have lost not only a great science journalist but a brave one as well. May her soul rest in perfect peace!
Rest in Peace CS
posted on December 11, 2011 by  AIMABLE TWAHIRWA
May your heart and soul find peace and comfort. Amen
Is it real?
posted on November 26, 2011 by  Hepeng Jia
Christina, you can't hear me? I cannot imagine this is real. You are so happy everyday and everytime we meet, I can share new ideas from you. I feel it is a guilty that I came here to know the news so late, partly because I am in a final rush to a PhD application and testing, and partly because in China's science journalism, there are so many things I need to push ahead. Please forgive me, and please, I know, you understand, what I am doing ism the same as yours, creating excellence in our field. I miss you for ever, and the feeling will push me ahead without any cowardice. Believe me.
Remembering Christina
posted on November 7, 2011 by  Deborah Blum
Some half-dozen or so years ago, a friend volunteered me to work with the World Federation of Science Journalists. I had just stepped down as president of the National Association of Science Writers (USA) and I took on the responsibility with a slight feeling of resentment.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I’d been an idiot. That it wasn’t only that I was working with science journalists from Africa and Asia, Europe and Latin America but that I was learning from them. I learned how much I’d taken for granted in terms of resources and access to information in my own country. I was reminded of how much one journalist could accomplish with a threadbare budget, a shared office computer, and a passion to make a difference.

No one could get that point across better than Christina Scott, the managing editor of Research Africa, one of South Africa’s most influential science journalists, who once illustrated it by walking onto a darkened conference stage holding up the faint glow of a cigarette lighter and reminding the audience that in the corners of Africa, some journalists did their jobs with no more than a spark of light or power in the room. And still did great work.

To read the full testimonial go to Deborah Blum's blog 'Speakeasy Science': http://blogs.plos.org/speakeasyscience/2011/11/07/remembering-christina/
Christina, The "Great Scott"
posted on November 6, 2011 by  Jerida Mathipa
Rest in Peace CS. We will miss you.
love you always!
A huge blow
posted on November 6, 2011 by  Justus Wanzala
It so sad to learn that she is gone. She was a strong source of inspiration, social and caring. May her soul rest in peace.
Colorful
posted on November 5, 2011 by  Augustin Denis
Christina, you were such a colorful friend, I will miss you, skype will never be the same without you around.
Message from Christina's daughter
posted on November 3, 2011 by  T V Padma
Passing on a message from Christina's daughter Nozipho Mthembu:

<<Please send anyone who would like to pay tribute to her through messages, pictures and memories to:Christina.Scott@gmail.com.>>
Scott: Journalist, mentor!
posted on November 3, 2011 by  William Odinga Balikuddembe
I don't want to believe what I am reading! Scott was a powerful science journalist, full of energy. Africa has lost a big mentor of science journalism. My prayers to the family and to all of us who related to her in science journalism. May her soul rest in eternal peace
Le temps a suspendu son vol...
posted on November 2, 2011 by  Gervais Mbarga
Ceux et celles qui l'on approchée gardent, à tout jamais, au-delà de l'éternité, le souvenir de la vie. Une professionnelle sans complexes. Ouverte au monde et aux autres. Passionnée de son affaire et qui partage sa passion. Sa disparition me pile le coeur et mon âme est triste...
I Can't Believe She Dies!
posted on November 2, 2011 by  Armand Faye
It is insomuch simple than that: I can't believe to this. Christina, my tutoring partner in the science journalism test class online course can't die. She is always alive! I met het, a quite healthy, beautiful, good-looking, and teasing, last June, in Doha.
What a colossal to die
posted on November 2, 2011 by  Aghan Daniel
We have lost a brain and a doer.
Aghan, MESHA, Kenya
How very sad news
posted on November 2, 2011 by  Eeva Pitkälä
I learned to know Christina in this summer in Doha, being in the same podcasting workshop. She was the inventive central figure in our group, as she seems to have been in all her life and work. My deepest condolescences to her family.
A wonderful lady
posted on November 2, 2011 by  Sophie Coisne
Christina was a wonderful person, one of the funniest journalist I met. I will miss her enthousiasm and her "joie de vivre".
posted on November 2, 2011 by  Frank Nuijens
I will remember Christina as a warm and funny person, who made a major contribution to the field of science journalism. She will be missed.
We will all miss you, Chris
posted on November 1, 2011 by  T V Padma
I first and last meetings with Chris were at the WCSJ. This is a terrible loss, not just to African science journalism, but science journalism worldwide. She enriched it with her passion for getting facts straight and clear; and her razor-sharp questions. She was my colleague at SciDev.Net from 2007-09, and here are our tributes: http://www.scidev.net/en/editorials/christina-scott--2.html

Personally, I have lost a great buddy. Her scintillating, humour will always remain etched on my mind. May her soul rest in peace.
Hard to imagine a world without her powerful presence
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Kathryn O'Hara
Christina was such a force, delightful and candid in her many strong opinions. She was always 'up' for anything involving good science journalism and good, getting better, science journalists and gladly shared her passion and penchant for getting the story straight. I can still hear her powerful voice. She leaves a wonderful legacy and my deep condolences are shared with her family, friends and fellow journalists.
Very sad news
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Vesa Niinikangas
I only just got to know Christina in Doha and she behaved like we had known each other for ages.

To me she showed up a positive, curious and critical person with a healthy strong self-confidence and a fine sense of humour. I just read news about her death and she was mentioned as the leading science journalist in South Africa. It was a big loss not only to her relatives and friends but also to South African science journalism and international science journalists' community
We owe you a lot!
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Jean-Marc Fleury
Science journalism in Africa and the SjCOOP project of the World Federation of Science journalists owe a lot to Christina Scott.
She was a mentor in the first SjCOOP project, from 2006 to 2009. She played a key role in creating and testing the online course in science journalism and wrote the third lesson 'The Interview'. She did not only support her mentees but helped many other journalists produce better stories and freelance internationally.
Christina was incredibly generous of her time, intelligence, energy and support. She was so brilliant and energetic. She could write an article while chatting with her children and entertaining a conversation with you.
In Melbourne, in April 2007, she said that science journalists, particularly in Africa, were 'extremophiles': organisms that survive and thrive in extremely difficult environments.
Christina has been a role model and she will continue to galvanize science journalists to overcome challenges and aim for the highest standards.
So sad to hear that Christina is gone
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Julie Clayton
Christina was one of the most wonderful people that I was lucky enough to know. From the time we first met in 2006 at a workshop in Port Elizabeth she has brought joy to me and my family. I can still hear her voice, and I shall miss her terribly, as will all that knew her.
We'll miss you, Christina
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Deborah Blum
We'll miss your enthusiasm for science journalism, your passion for making a difference, your belief that good reporting could help make Africa shine - and we'll miss your friendship most of all.
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Elmar Veerman
Terrible news! I only met Christina once, but she made a lasting impression. A very intelligent, courageous science journalist full of interesting and provocative ideas, she was obviously doing what she could to make the world a better place. What a loss.
RIP Christina!
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Wolfgang Goede
What a loss for all of us. She was an excellent one, a tough one, and an amiable colleague, full of passion, for the job and, above all, on behalf of the people. Rest in peace, Christina!
A towering figure in science journalism
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Pallab Ghosh
Christina was great at what she did and was so kind to others. Best of all she'd make me smile.
My sympathies
posted on November 1, 2011 by  Hanns-J. Neubert / EUSJA
‎Christina Scott was a great journalist and an amiable friend. I'll miss her friendliness, her joyance and enthusiasm.
Honour his momery
posted on November 1, 2011 by  assogba
We lost a best journalist and mentor. let homour his momory.
I will miss her enthusiasm
posted on October 31, 2011 by  Hope Mafaranga
I remember walking with Cristina and other mentees to the shopping mall in Doha, she was full of energy and I remember her encouraging words. “Science journalism requires patience, seriousness and commitment”. She was a good woman to us and she associated with us if we were old friends, she made us laugh throughout our walk under the heat of Doha and we eventually forgot that the weather was hot. Her death is a big loss to the science media community in Africa. May her soul rest in internal peace.

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