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Why do we need Journalism?

Science journalism cuts across reporting on anything that includes health, agriculture,
environment, etc. Can you just pause for a moment to think about how frustrating and disturbing
it would be if there is actually an opportunity for people to benefit from health, environment and
agriculture and yet no one seem to benefit because we have not been able to communicate and
reach out to people who need the information the most?

Of what benefit does it make if we as scientists have the knowledge needed to move forward and
yet can’t impart the same knowledge in our people? People’s health are worsening, farmers are
not producing as expected, etc. all because they have missed out on the needed scientific
information to help them achieve their goals and this is where the importance of science
journalism comes up. The incidence of diseases like Sickle Cell Disease in Africa would have
reduced if the ordinary citizens get access to the right education on it.

What have taken over our news these days? Politics! Entertainment! If it’s not about a minister in
government then it is about a music artiste and his next album release. We give less attention to
scientific news which is the key to economy progress in a nation. According to Otula Owuor,
Patron, MESHA, science is the driving force for socio-economic development. A freelance
journalist in Uganda, Lominda Afredane said in a MESHA documentary that, for Africa to reach
the level of standard of the developed world, science and technology is needed. Unfortunately for
us, we lack science journalists to help us properly disseminate the information to the people.
The public and policy makers miss out on information that is critical for development and
findings of researches conducted are not communicated to the population that need it the most
especially those in the rural areas.

Farmers are looking for information that will save their mangos from black pod disease,
technologies that will yield maximum farm output, mosquito-prone areas need information on
precautions that will reduce the deaths caused by malaria. Who will deliver this health news to
them to protect themselves? Who will encourage researchers to develop vaccines for them? Who
will encourage policy makers to enforce the policies? It’s you! The Science Journalists!!!
Thinking about all these, looking at the fact that no nation can develop to meet the standards of
the developed world without science and yet our people do not benefit from scientific findings
and works because the right information isn’t reaching them, what do you think can be done to
promote the skills and professionalism in science reporting? A lot of deliberate efforts is needed
to change the landscape of science journalism in Africa (Diran Onifade, President,AFJA).
Africans have to change the trend in stories that make our news headlines. Science news must be
prioritized since we really need it to progress as a continent.

In a nut shell, some organizations in Africa especially Kenya like MESHA have started some
great works in Science journalism for over a decade now and have contributed largely to the
development in sectors like agriculture and health in Kenya and Africa as a whole through
reporting on Science. This should ginger our fellow Africans to stand up and utilize science
journalism to take our nations forward and if anyone can start the change, it is we! Science
Journalists!

 

Mary/Tim