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Friday, 27 June 2008

Arab science journalists think local

"We want our journalists to focus more on covering local science and have the skills to cover science from an informed perspective." That quote could have come from just about anywhere outside the USA. In this case it came from Nadia El-Awady of the Arab Science Journalists Association (ASJA) in an item on CRDF Conversations from the US Civilian Research & Development Foundation.

Nadia was talking about a partnership that the ASJA has started with the National Association of Science Writers in the United States. As well as learning a few things from the American science journalists, Nadia also hopes that "American journalists will learn from us a little bit about covering science in the developing world because the context is different".

Dealing with Arab science isn't just about blowing local trumpets. "We think that it’s important to cover local science because it sheds light on the deficiencies as well as the good things that are happening. So we really want to see more coverage of local Arab science happening in science columns and science articles in specialized and popular magazines."

This is easier said than done. Nadia also talks about some of the problems they face. "We have to do a lot of footwork to get the research," she says. "In Egypt, you get information out of ministries and government institutions; sometimes you have to go through a process of getting permission, so deadlines are often hard to keep. It’s often impossible to quote government officials in the article because you might have to take about a week or two to get the permission to actually speak to these people."

Remember this the next time you hear someone moaning about getting to sources.