World Federation of Science Journalists

First Phase

SjCOOP (Science Journalism COOPeration)  objectives were to (1) develop a network of professional science journalists in Africa, North Africa and in the Middle East; (2) put in place national and regional associations of science journalists; and (3) strengthen the World Federation of Science Journalists as a supportive partner of science journalists in the developing world.

First face to face meeting in Nairobi, November 2006
In 2009, at the end of SjCOOP, networks of science journalists are now in place in Africa and in the Arab World. Each network is made of one regional association complemented by national associations. The African network includes nine national associations (6 created by SjCOOP) with a total membership of 408 journalists. The Arab network is mainly represented by a pan-Arab association with two national associations (created through SjCOOP) representing some 215 journalists.

The 32 journalists who succeeded the SjCOOP training, and the African and Arab SjCOOP coordinators and mentors who participated in providing the training, now represent the hard core of these two networks of professional science journalists in Africa and in the Arab World. They work in 17 African countries (Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo (RDC), Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, and Zambia) and 5 Arab countries (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon).

While supported by SjCOOP, these journalists have created the first pan-African science magazine, five new science TV programs, six new science radio programs, and seven new science beats in newspapers, magazines and news agencies. Fifteen of them have been promoted by their editors because of their new skills. Seventeen now freelance internationally. Their professionalism has been recognized by 44 prizes, awards, scholarships and internships awarded to 22 of them.

This hard core of African and Arab science journalists has learned to work together, across the frontiers of their respective countries, reporting on a few regional issues in ‘transborders’ articles. They have also established contacts with editors to publish these stories. They now use internet technologies like Skypechats and Skypecasts to keep in touch with scientists and colleagues. Through SjCOOP, they have introduced Skype news conferences with scientists in their respective regions.

Seven SjCOOP journalists have contributed to create the first ever online course in science journalism (8 lessons available in Arabic, English, French, and now in Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish). The course is being used in universities. Two SjCOOP journalists have become professors of science journalism in universities in Egypt and Madagascar.

Five of the associations have organized their own conferences, workshops and training activities with SjCOOP support. This was done for the first time in Rwanda and Uganda. Several have done so in close collaboration with local science departments and academies.

With SjCOOP first phase’s conclusion, the African and Arab science journalists, individually and through their associations, are now active members of the world community of science journalists.

Twelve associations from the developing world are now official members of the World Federation of Science Journalists and eight are twinned with associations in Asia, Europe and North America. This new global network in science journalism creates an incentive for better reporting and increased recognition of science journalists in the developing world.

Final Report of the Peer–to-peer Development and Support of Science Journalism in the Developing World: the SjCOOP Project
1st April 2006 to 31st March 2009
pdf version

The first Phase was funded by:

International Development Research Centre (Canada)
Department for International Development (UK)
Swedish International Development Agency (Sweden)