Watchdogs of the Public Interest - the role of science journalists and other science communicators
November 7 2007
Systems Seminar Room, Development Policy and Practice, Faculty of Maths, Computing and Technology, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Organised by: Innogen
Talk to science journalists from Africa, Asia or Latin America and they will tell you that the path to effective science reporting is a rocky one. A Zambian journalist, for example, complains that little information circulates on locally conducted research owing to the lack of contact between scientists and reporters. Another journalist in China bemoans the low priority accorded to media relations, most science related policy decisions being made behind closed doors. A Brazilian journalist struggles to unearth news in her country, where few research centres have press offices to publicize their findings. Such grievances are widely shared. Notwithstanding this, there are several reasons to be optimistic about the future of science journalism in the developing world. The first to welcome this news should be the general public and the public authorities in the countries concerned; for science journalists are defenders not only of the public interest but also of effective governance, as political decisions made on the basis of wrong or distorted information will almost inevitably be bad ones.