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Training needs for science journalists prioritized at Conference

29-05-2007 (Apia)
Training needs for science journalists prioritized at Conference
WFSJ General Assembly
© Mark Coulson, 5th World
Conference of Science Journalists
The urgency placed on training for science journalists in developing countries and on networking is the outcome of the 5th World Conference of Science Journalists that took place in Melbourne, Australia, from 16 to 20 April 2007.
According to the Conference Director Niall Byrne, the need to develop science journalism has never been greater. Journalists have to be trained on how to correctly pass information about scientific achievements from the research community into the public domain. "On networking, the conference no doubt achieved its aim of building links between science reporters from around the world, he said. If you are reporting from Cairo or Washington, you need to have good contacts in China to know what is happening there."

Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, in his message to the Conference stressed the challenges of science reporting and the importance of improving the standards of science writing and science communication education. "One of the central issues of today's world is the creation, sharing, acquisition and use of knowledge and, more specifically, of scientific knowledge," he said.

A workshop, sponsored by UNESCO, was held on 16 April and looked at the training needs of journalists in developing countries and emerging democracies. It also reviewed the initial results of a UNESCO project to develop a generic one-year science journalism course and share the experiences of teachers around the world.

The workshop found out that UNESCO was prepared to provide training, funding and support for science journalists especially those in developing countries and emerging democracies. To identify which of these countries need it the most, a questionnaire was given to interested participants.

During the Conference, the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), a global network of 27 associations of science reporters, launched a project allowing science journalists from Africa and the Middle East to partner with their Northern and Southern counterparts in an international peer-to-peer network.

An initial funding of CA$800,000 (approximately US$700,000) is being provided by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) for the 3-year project, which will expose 60 journalists to the latest techniques in science reporting, giving them an opportunity to report emerging issues in science in their regions. Through WFSJ, these journalists will be connected to a large network providing contacts, advice and opportunities in their field.

While participating journalists will be trained to effectively communicate complex science topics to the general audience, emerging national, regional and international associations of science journalists will also be provided support and services through the project.

The summary of all the workshops and sessions of the Conference can be found in the Final Report.
Training needs for science journalists prioritized at Conference
Organizers: Kylie Andrews, Wilson da Silva,
Margaret Bird, Niall Byrne, Sarah Brooker.
© Vasemaca Rarabici, Fiji Sun newspaper

Related themes/countries

      · Asia and the Pacific
      · Australia
      · Training of Media Professionals: News Archives 2007
      · Media Development: News Archives 2007
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