Standing firm for science journalism is not an easy task. But some of the seasoned and upcoming environment and science journalists in Kenya believe it is something worth doing – and they are doing it.
One of their most considered desirable way of doing this is by coming together. That’s why the formation of the Kenya Environment and Science Journalists Association has been hailed as a revolution in Kenya.
“The coming together of Kenyan practicing science journalists to form an association was indeed a good happening to our country this century as it gives us a platform for sharing and setting standards for bringing to the readers and listeners well-researched and simplified stories concerning science”, says Duncan Mboyah, the organising secretary of the association.
Secondly, formation of an association is good because science is not taught, only mentioned in the Kenyan journalism colleges, and through the association science journalism is set to be lifted through collaborations and partnership to enable journalists to gain more knowledge through mentorship and fellowships.
Mboyah has qualms with politics being given exceptional prominence in the media, yet it is not the only life segment that affects the common people. “This is the only way out to help mainstream science issues in the mainstream media.”
Standing firm for science journalism, he continues, will help in educating the public on matters that touch their daily lives and are not being given prominence currently due to lack of commitment by journalists and lackadaisical attitude by editors.
Again, if you want to wet the appetite of upcoming journalists to take up science writing seriously, mentoring through an association is a good catalyst. The World Federation of Science Journalists, he argues, has shown the way and KENSJA is the future platform for hosting talks on crucial debates in Kenya.
By coming together, journalists are in a position to promote science journalism as they will develop resource centers that could avail the much needed tools of the trade. They will share ideas and may even jointly decide on story angles.
Science journalism needs to be taken seriously to help inform the masses on the goings-on in the science world and also deserves support from the government and other organisations since it is key to understanding better the universe, something only possible through concerted efforts of the journalists.
Here journalists are a fundamental link between scientists who speak in very difficult language to most of the masses. Since some are semi–illiterate, they will not understand.
“Bringing together journalists to form KENSJA was the best move that has ever happened in this country, especially for those with passion for it”, says Mary Wangari, a member.
To her it makes them learn the real world and how they are being affected by real things such as climate change, new emerging health issues and new technologies, and, of course, passing the information on to the public.
Science journalists need to come together and create a platform for sharing their experiences, new things; to interact and to further the development of reporting on new advances, setbacks and controversies in science.
Dealing with a specialised kind of writing it entails research, interest and a lot of concentration to break the usually jargon laden language into simple language for the readers even though it is not being given the priority it deserves in our print and electronic media. Fight for it.