World Federation of Science Journalists

Science Journalism just lost a Champion


August 2, 2013

David Dickson passed away yesterday.

I Met David in 1979 during the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development, in Vienna. He was the editor of the Conference newspaper, which I think was his idea.

It was inspirational. I had never met someone driven by the importance of the contribution that science and technology could make to developing countries and so determined to write about it.

David Dickson 1947-2013



Like all great science journalists, he was first a great journalist. Always asking, always unsatisfied with answers and explanations, always following a new lead.

David was convinced that science had a role to play in international development and he wanted to write about it. I can easily imagine how many times he must have argued with his editors at Science and Nature to cover the contribution of scientific research in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America.

Finally, David convinced major donors in the United Kingdom, in Canada, in The Netherlands, in the United States, in Sweden, and elsewhere to achieve his dream: SciDev.net, a media totally dedicated to the coverage of science and technology in the developing world.

I have had the privilege of welcoming David at IDRC, in Ottawa, when he sought and received the support of the International Development Research Centre. In London, he showed me the first rough layouts of the web site that would become a reference for all of us. Before each World Conference of Science Journalists, we would work together to make sure that many science journalists from the developing world would be able to attend. And we regularly discussed the respective merits of different correspondents.

David was an extremely honest, frank, and generous person. It is David that introduced me to Dylan Winder at the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development who then made it possible for the World Federation of Science Journalists’ flagship SjCOOP Project to achieve so much scope.

Thank you David.

You were just beginning to enjoy much deserved years at relaxing and watching your work bloom. We’ll miss you. I’ll miss you, very much.

Jean-Marc Fleury
Executive Director, World Federation of Science Journalists
Bell Globemedia Chair in Science Journalism, Université Laval, Québec, Canada