World Federation of
Science Journalists

SjCOOP


Science Journalism in Africa and the Arab world


(Gatineau, Canada) -- The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), representing 41 associations of science and technology journalists all over the world, is launching a new project aimed at raising journalists that can efficiently cover science (health, environment, agriculture and technology) in Africa and the Arab world. The three year project is the second phase of project SjCOOP (Science journalism COOPeration).

 “The first SjCOOP had a major positive influence on science journalism in Africa and the Arab world in the past three years”, said Ms. Nadia El-Awady. “It created a lot of excitement in both regions about science journalism. This second phase is much more ambitious. It will require major commitment from the journalists undergoing the training, the trainers, and project team.”

“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.” added Ms. El-Awady.
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 other donors will be confirmed in follow-up news releases.

The initial SjCOOP was implemented from 2006 to 2009. It simultaneously offered training in their mother tongue to English- and French-speaking African journalists as well as Arab-speaking journalists. Eighty-one journalists benefited from the program and 32 met all the requirements. The project also established 8 associations of science journalists which were then twinned with European and North American associations. SjCOOP journalists created five new science TV programs, six new radio science programs, and seven new science beats in newspapers, magazines and agencies. Fifteen were promoted, seventeen started freelancing internationally and they all together collected more than 44 prizes and awards. Another 15 journalists from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America became experienced in the training of science journalists as mentors.

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 skepticism of scientists and policy-makers towards the media.

SjCOOP will train 60 journalists in the reporting of science and 15 experienced science journalists as trainers in science journalism in the African anglophone and francophone countries as well as in the Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East. 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 put in place and reinforce ten associations of science journalists that will provide sustainable support to these 60 journalists and 15 trainers.
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.

SjCOOP is built to specifically provide journalists with additional new skills, as well as review the basic skills in the reporting of science and technology. 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 mentees, visit the page Become a mentee.

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


This Sjcoop Project is funded by:
International Development Research Centre (Canada)
Department for International Development (UK)
Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS)








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