Script’s new book aimed at helping to improve the communication of science in Africa has now been published. The book is available for free electronically and to buy in paperback in the CABI Digital Library.
‘Science Communication Skills for Journalists: A Resource Book for Universities in Africa,’ is edited and authored by Dr Charles Wendo who is himself a qualified vet and science journalist as well as Training Coordinator for SciDev.Net.
Further contributors to the book include Dr Abraham Kiprop Mulwo (Moi University, Kenya), Dr Darius Mukiza (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), and Dr Aisha Sembatya Nakiwala, Dr Samuel George Okech and Dr William Tayeebwa – the latter of whom are all from Makerere University in Uganda.
Future of science journalism
In the book Dr Abraham Kiprop Mulwo, Dean of the School of Information Sciences at Moi University, Kenya, reviews the current status and future of science journalism and communication in Africa.
Dr Wendo uses his detailed knowledge and experience in the field to package engaging and informative content for journalists, students of science journalism and communication, and educators.
The book, that was recently launched at a science journalism conference at Moi University, provides hands-on advice on the practice of science journalism. It also includes learning activities and discussion questions to deepen the readers’ understanding of the topic.
With 22 chapters of engaging content, the book is divided into two parts. Part 1 lays down the theoretical foundation of science communication while Part 2 has 16 chapters of hands-on advice about science journalism.
Real life experiences
Five academic papers are also included that identify, review and synthesize available literature and experiences on science journalism and communication issues in Africa.
The book also includes a case study detailing the experience of Makerere University in introducing science journalism and communication into their undergraduate and post-graduate curricula.
This is after some of the content of the book was tried and tested by lecturers at Makerere University, Nasarawa State University in Nigeria, Moi University and University of Dar es Salaam.
Samuel Musungu Muturi, a third-year student of journalism and media studies at Moi University, said science journalism training and the book will increase the relevance of journalists.
Bridging gaps in communication
Mr Muturi said, “This book is part of a training that will enable us to claim our position as journalists who are vital in the science communication process, bridging the gap between scientists, the public, and policymakers.”
‘Science Communication Skills for Journalists: A Resource Book for Universities in Africa,’ is published as part of SciDev.Net’s Script science communication training programme.
Script was funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. This is a free training and networking resource. It is aimed at journalists, scientists and anyone who wants to communicate science in an engaging and accurate way. The programme was launched in 2018 to bridge the gap in science communication in sub-Saharan Africa.
Emanuel Dandaura, Professor of Development Communication and Performance Aesthetics at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria, said, “Part of the challenge for scientists is to communicate often complex science to journalists who then help analyse and disseminate that information to a range of stakeholders including the general public.
“This new resource will go a long way towards bridging the gap in Africa between science communication and audiences, such as policymakers, who we hope will take heed of our findings for the betterment of society.”
Accurate and ethical reporting
At the launch event, Dr Wendo, who is also SciDev.Net’s Training Coordinator, discussed a paper on reporting science in a local language. He also chaired a session on the ethical reporting of science.
Dr Wendo said, “Science Communication Skills for Journalists: A Resource Book for Universities in Africa,’ equips the reader to not only understand often complex scientific findings but also to communicate research in layman’s terms.
“The book also highlights the need to take a critical and analytical viewpoint of new scientific endeavours to ensure that reporting is accurate, fair and balanced. This is particularly important in our age of ‘fake news’ and misleading information.”