Appiah provides commentary on science journalism in Sub-Sahara Africa

April 18, 2012
Bernard Appiah, M.S.

Bernard Appiah, M.S.

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — Despite the boom in science journalism in developing countries, little is known about the views of reporters in Sub-Sahara Africa on the future of science journalism. “The Future of Science Journalism in Ghana: Evidence-Based Perspectives,” published in the Journal of Science Communication by Bernard Appiah, M.S., a doctoral student at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, provides commentary from a recent survey of 151 Ghanaian journalists on the issue.

“Eighty percent of the respondents said there was a need for greater public literacy about science and that increasing the amount of science coverage would lead to better science outcomes for the country,” Appiah states. “Despite the growth of interest in science journalism in recent decades, many journalists in Ghana struggled to get access to researchers, and in particular to obtain contact information for scientists they wished to interview.”

Appiah, also director of the Center for Science and Health Communication (CSHC) – a non-profit Ghanaian organization that promotes public engagement with the sciences – said the CSHC is working to improve the situation by setting up online expert databases, including contact details, to help journalists reach researchers they want to speak to. It was noted use of the web could increase the quantity and quality of science journalism in Ghana, both by facilitating information gathering and by serving as a medium of science communication.

Bright Blewu, secretary-general of the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA), said science reporting in Ghana was inadequate because many newsrooms did not have specialized science reporters, and many scientific achievements received little or no publicity.

George Essegbey, director of the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute at Ghana’s Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, said collaboration between the Research Scientists Association, the GJA and the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences could provide additional impetus to increase science coverage.

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— Rae Lynn Mitchell