World Federation of Science Journalists

Xtreme Training in Science Journalism in Africa and in the Arab World


February 16, 2010

Mentor Application Deadline
March 5th 2010
(WFSJ) – On Saturday 20th February 2010, in San Diego (California), Ms. Nadia El-Awady, President of the World Federation of Science Journalists, officially launched SjCOOP, a $4.3 million (Canadian) mentoring project aimed at raising journalists that can efficiently cover health, environment, agriculture, science and technology in Africa and the Middle East.

The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), representing 41 associations of science and technology journalists from all over the world, will implement the ambitious and challenging three-year project, which is the second phase of project SjCOOP (Science journalism COOPeration).

SjCOOP meeting in Doha, Qatar, February 2008
“The first SjCOOP had a major positive influence on science journalism in Africa and the Arab World in the past three years”, said Ms. El-Awady. “This second phase is much more ambitious. We will provide journalists an opportunity to achieve the best a science journalist can hope for: make a difference in the life of people. But to get there, we will be extremely demanding,” she added.

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) is the lead donor of the new project, building on its investment in the successful implementation of the first phase. The International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) has also promised support, beginning April 2010, while several other donors and partners are in discussions with the WFSJ regarding the details of their support and collaboration.

The SjCOOP follow-up project will again be multilingual and simultaneously offer training in the Arabic, English and French languages. The training will address issues that are common to the Africa and Middle East contexts, such as a short fall of competent journalists needed to cover scientific and technology issues, lack of interest from editors for science and research, and deeply entrenched scepticism of scientists and policy-makers towards the media.

SjCOOP will train 60 journalists in the reporting of science and another 15 as trainers in science journalism. It will be implemented with the explicit goal of reinforcing regional and local structures in the delivery of training in science reporting. A young science communication organization based in Africa, Development Communications (DEVCOMS) Network, will be a partner of the WFSJ in implementing the project. Regional and national associations of science journalists in the Arab World and in Africa will gain experience and eventually implement their own training activities from start to end.

SjCOOP will also put in place and reinforce ten associations of science journalists that will provide sustainable support to these 60 journalists and 15 trainers.

Nadia El-Awady 
AAAS Meeting in San Diego, February 2010
Training of journalists is achieved at a distance while journalists remain active in their normal working environment. The journalists benefit from the advice and support of mentors who are experienced science journalists from within or outside their regions. These mentors provide a full range of advice and support, from help with specific reporting assignments all the way to career development and international freelancing. Mentors and mentees meet face to face at least once a year.

Science journalism basics will be addressed by tutoring in the first online course in science journalism, developed during the first phase of SjCOOP (http://www.wfsj.org/course/). More so, the thrust of the project is to increase reporting of relevant scientific knowledge and research by the African and Arab mass media and ultimately contribute to the use of evidence into policy making and decision-making.

SjCOOP’s new approach has very rapidly positioned the World Federation of Science Journalists as a leader in training journalists in the reporting of complex scientific and technological issues. This has been possible because of the Federation’s direct access to a worldwide network of the best expertise available in science journalism.

“We are hoping to continue this success with the second SjCOOP and to play a real role in supporting science journalism and improving the quality of science coverage in both regions”, concluded Ms. El-Awady.”

Watch for announcements regarding the SjCOOP project at: www.wfsj.org and visit the SjCOOP dedicated section of our web site: www.wfsj.org/sjcoop .

For science journalists interested to be SjCOOP mentors, read SjCOOP: Xtreme Training in Science Journalism

Contact: Ms. Olfa Labassi, Project Manager, email: olfa.labassi@wfsj.org, telephone: +1 819 770 0776.

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