Science journalism courses in the developing world

Science journalism should be introduced in universities in the developing world, a workshop linked to the 7th World Conference of Science Journalists agreed.

Delegates at the workshop approved a UNESCO-developed “Model Science Journalism Curriculum for Universities of the Developing World” which was first outlined in 2007.

The meeting, held in Georgetown University School of Foreign Services in Qatar, heard that the majority of journalism degree programmes in developing countries do not have n a single module on science reporting.

And most journalists who report on science also report on other subjects. One day they report on science, the next day on crime and the next on fashion.

Panellists provided examples of possible structures for science journalism courses in universities.

Bruce Lewenstein, Professor of Science Communication from Cornell University in the United States, told me: “Effective science communication in the developing world is not possible unless we produce science journalists there by introducing science journalism as university discipline”.

Meeting participants agreed that materials related to science journalism as a masters degree should be developed with attention to local and regional requirements.

The meeting recommended launching the model science journalism curriculum at Arab-world universities first with support from local universities and partners to be identified by the end of the year.

Deborah Blum, a professor of Journalism at University of Wisconsin-Medicine (USA) also cautioned, however, that “training, in the developing country context, is more important than introducing degree programmes because there are many science journalists from the developing world doing good reporting without a journalism or science background and their skills just need to be polished”.

AA Khan, SciDev.Net contributor, Pakistan

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