Does the developing world need science media centres?

Science media centres help ensure that accurate science is promoted in the media

Science media centres seek to help ensure that accurate science is promoted in the media

Is it worth setting up science media centres (SMCs) in the developing world?

Science media centres seek to promote more informed science in the media. Patricia Scholtz, communications manager at the Academy of Science of South Africa, is hoping to establish such a centre in South Africa — potentially collaborating with Nigeria and Uganda.

Playing devil’s advocate, she asked the panel at the session “Different strokes for different science folk” whether, for developing countries with other priorities such as education, such centres would be a “luxury”.

Peter Calamai, a consultant at the Canada Foundation for Innovation, who chaired the discussion, doesn’t think so. “The way to get [developing] nations out of poverty is development; to have a public that is well-informed and engaged in science”.

But would developing world science media centres encroach on press officers? Kenyan delegate Juliette Mutheu said that press officers in her country had expressed concerns that such institutions would “take away their role”.

Several delegates at the WCSJ have lamented the state of press officers in the developing world. Christina Scott, SciDev.Net’s African news editor, pointed out that there are very few of them. In South Africa, she said, the quality of press releases could be improved.

Surely media centres would help, then? Fiona Fox, director of the UK’s Science Media Centre, thinks they would complement each other.

She said the role of SMCs is to “add value to existing institutions”.

“We need to listen to press officers and ask them what they want. It is a critical relationship”.

And Scholtz, a former journalist, believes that science journalists must be helped in any way possible to overcome the obstacles in getting science to the public.

She and her team have submitted proposals for the centre and are awaiting the results.

“It’s definitely worth trying,” Scholtz told SciDev.Net. “There’s a long road ahead but I’m very excited.”

Naomi Antony, SciDev.Net

3 Responses to Does the developing world need science media centres?

  1. Professor B. B. Mohanty says:

    The Developing World needs Science Media Centres. I would go a step further and say that the Rural Areas of the Developing World needs Science Media Centres to be called the Rural Science Media Centres, whose primary focus would be to find out the indeginous knowledge in science, which the rural people have. Some of such knowledge is based on years and years of empirical knowledge, based on observation.
    The Rural Science Media Centres should have Internet facilities. They should organise Group Discussions on Scienctfic Phenomena. For example to Total Solar Eclipse coming off on 22 July 2009, to be followed by a Lunar Sclipse within a short period of time, has not only to be observed, but people should have discussions on the same. The Rural Science Media Centres should functuion like Vijnan Mandirs ( Temples of Science ).

  2. cheyenne says:

    this is so stupid you do need scince if u didnt u wouldnt know any thing

  3. Monika says:

    I do believe that we are in need of Science Centers in the developing world because information does spread quickly and by having a sole Science center in a central location would allow information to spread beyond. They should have discussions about areas that include climate change and also about the science of human health, about infectious and sexual transmitted diseases.

    We do live in a global world !

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