World Federation of Science Journalists

60 Journalists in WFSJ Mentoring Program


August 31, 2006

Journalists join hands to cover science in Africa and the Middle East


Like the scientists they write about, science writers share a special bond that allows them to transcend differences in language, politics and country of origin. But until recently, this special fellowship was closed to all but a few journalists in the world's most resource-poor nations.

In a dramatic turnabout, however, a new program, created by the World Federation of Science Journalists, promises to train 60 journalists from 35 countries in Africa and the Middle East, who have signed up to work with a group of 16 experienced science writers.

Many believe this (program) could make a difference, wrote Mike Shanahan in a Nature article titled "Fighting a reporting battle" published in 28 September 2006 edition of the prestigious scientific journal, read the article through the SciDev.net website or see attachment below.

At a meeting convened by WFSJ in Nairobi from 4-10 November, the science writers in training will meet with their mentors as part of an initiative that also aims to create links between nascent associations of science journalists in the developing world with long established ones from Asia, Europe and North and South America.

A major objective of the mentoring program is to increase and improve the coverage of local research and expertise in Africa and the Middle East. It is hoped that more and better interaction between African and Middle Eastern media and the experts and scientists in these regions will enlighten public debate, lead to better policies and improve the livelihood of populations.

The United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DfID) has joined the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada to support this program.

The mentoring program began in September, with exchanges carried out on the telephone and by emails. Mentors, who are from 14 countries, provide tips on how to interpret scientific jargon, examples of good science stories, and useful, reliable sources of information to help add depth and context to the reporters stories. In Nairobi, the discussions will focus on the challenges of the program and an assessment of the first two lessons of a pilot online course in science journalism.

Expose me to new frontiers in the coverage of science and technology, Improve my skills as a science journalist, Learn how to be a mentor in science journalism.

These are among the goals the new science writers have set for themselves for the next two years. They will be supported by their experienced mentors, eight of whom are from Africa and the Middle East

For information on the program, contact Jean-Marc Fleury, Executive Director, WFSJ, at jmfleury@wfsj.org

File : ScienceJournalism.pdf