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B4FA 2012 Ghana: Introduction to Science Journalism - Alex Abutu


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Presentation by Alex Abutu, AfricaSTI
Delivered at the B4FA Media Dialogue Workshop, Accra, Ghana - September 2012

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B4FA 2012 Ghana: Introduction to Science Journalism - Alex Abutu

  1. 1. Science and Agricultural Journalism Alex Abutu Editor, African Science Technology and Innovation News
  2. 2. Why Science?
  3. 3. • “Why we use scientific methods to evaluate things is that human beings are extremely susceptible to prejudice, group think, placebo effects, confirmation bias and a whole host of other factors. This means that some of the things which we strongly believe to be true, are in fact not! Scientific investigation attempts to overcome some of these effects to get a more objective view of an issue. A key tenet of the scientific method is that results must be reproducible given the same conditions. If a finding cannot be reproduced, it is not scientifically proven,” Kirsty Newman
  4. 4. The scientific process • Science is not magic • You ask a question • Construct hypothesis • Test hypothesis • Analyse the data • Communicate the result to your peers then the public.
  5. 5. Why agric?
  6. 6. How to find a story • Sources of information and inspiration • News conferences • Press releases • Peer reviewed Journals • Research institutes, etc
  7. 7. Is it a story?
  8. 8. Sources of information • A good science story depend to a large extent who or what the source is, so it is very important that the source of our information be credible and possibly an authority in the field.
  9. 9. Sources:
  10. 10. Who do you trust? • Not all sources are equally valid • Science and “balance” • Research vs opinion • Published work • Where and who by? • Peer review
  11. 11. Interviewing a scientist
  12. 12. Interviewing a scientist • Scientists’ reactions to journalists • How to get the best from scientists • Building a relationship • How do you write the story for your reader to understand? • Translating science-speak without dumbing down
  13. 13. Interviewing a lobbyist • Relationships with lobbyists • How to get the truth from a lobbyist • Investigative interviewing techniques
  14. 14. How do scientists react to the media? • What do scientists think of us? • Misquote, misrepresentation, inability to understand common scientific jargon • What can you do about that? • Befriend them, Win their trust, cross check copy, make them understand you a journalist • Building the relationship?
  15. 15. How do journalists react to scientists? • How do you typically react to scientists? • Mr think he knows everything, Jargon man, • What can you do about that? • Try to understand him, read more about his work • What can scientists do? • Be more accessible, be willing to explain • How can you help them achieve this
  16. 16. Selling it to your editor/producer • Why should this be published? • Impact on society, economy, health, etc • Selling the story to your editor • Must be well written, draw out benefits/implications of the discovery as it relate to food security, vision 202020 etc
  17. 17. Where to publish
  18. 18. Finally
  19. 19. * NGOs/Lobbyists have an agenda * You are not a scientist * Science is not about opinion
  20. 20. Thank You! Midaasi !! Mi da bo shi !!! Alex Abutu Editor, African Science Technology and Innovation News +23468701960