ScienceAfrica: A Successful Internship Program for Future Science Journalists

Since 2009 ScienceAfrica, an African magazine on science, innovation and development, has provided intensive three months internships in science journalism and science communication.

The internships are accessible to young African students in journalism who seek hands-on experience during their holidays, as well as to final year students and to those who already have journalism degrees. ScienceAfrica also has room for freelance journalists seeking experience in science reporting and for a few selected science graduates. These various internships have helped train African science journalists successfully thanks to the quality of the training and mentors.

Otula Owuor, owner and editor of ScienceAfrica, was also the patron of MESHA, The Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture based in Nairobi, a founding member of the African Federation of Science Journalists and a mentor for SjCOOP (Science journalism COOPeration) in Africa and the Middle East. SjCOOP is a past WFSJ project, which aimed mentoring science journalists and establishing science journalists’ associations in Africa and the Middle East.

Many universities have shown an interest in these internships for their students, as is the case for the University of Nairobi, Cardiff University, Riara University, the United States International University (USIU), etc.

Since the beginning of the program in 2009, 54 internships have been completed and the vast majority of these graduates have now found jobs or are successful freelance science journalists.

For example, Kiprotich Koros from Moi University, won the African Media Initiative awards for his ground-breaking investigative story on the use of hazardous -potentially carcinogenic chemicals-  such as calcium carbide, which contains remnants of arsenic and phosphorus and is used to hasten fruit ripening.  Mr Koros also won USD 2,000 from the India Centre for Science and Environment to help him write stories on water and urban pollution.

Another outstanding intern and example is Kevin Opondo who just finished a PhD in Tropical Medicine focusing on malaria. While at ScienceAfrica, during both his Masters and PhD, he was interested in communicating science effectively to various audiences.

There are some other examples of successful African science journalists, such as Diana Omondo Makimario, who was among five young journalists from developing countries selected to attend and cover last years #COP21 in Paris. You can find one of her articles here.

If you are interested in the internship program for future science go to the ScienceAfrica’s website or its Twitter account.

Article written by Sophie Turri

July 28, 2016