Job ads

Want to advertise your jobs on this page and on the ABSW's members only mailing list?

Details here...

Friday, 6 February 2009

Can ABSW members support science reporters in developing countries?

Thanks to Naima Reza for alerting ABSW-L to this item by David Dickson Learning by doing: Experiences of writing for SciDev.Net.

The ever resourceful service relies heavily on "reports commissioned from, or sent to us by, science journalists across the developing world". So SciDev.Net decided to survey its freelance contributors.

The 62 journalists who responded was, David admits, "neither particularly comprehensive nor scientific". Anecdotal the survey may be, but it has some interesting results. One observation is that "almost 70 per cent of survey respondents said that writing for SciDev.Net, as well as the editorial feedback we give, has improved their written English skills". Other findings include:

  • "39 per cent of the respondents said that persuading government sources to comment on news stories was often difficult"
  • "half of the respondents sometimes had difficulty persuading press officers to help them access information"
  • "more than two-thirds said that scientists were sometimes unwilling to be interviewed".
Many of these observations will come as little surprise to ABSW members – would we have produced very different answers to the same questions? But it is well worth reading the piece for more details.

The point of putting something here is to pick up on Naima's reason for alerting ABSW-L. Can we do anything to help the people who write for SciDev.Net?

As David writes "the survey confirmed that many science journalists in the developing world feel isolated in their work, and would welcome greater contact with professional colleagues in other countries". How can we make that happen? Perhaps David can come up with some thoughts.