Today, science journalism has become a fundamental constituent of the mass media equally fighting for space in prime segments of news and features coverage, especially in the economic global north.
In the age of globalisation exacted upon us by the Information and Communication Technology wizardry, there is much new knowledge pouring from millions of research projects and studies around the world that push the boundaries of man’s knowledge to new heights, almost daily.
The changes are numerous and so specialised and difficult if not absolutely impossible for a lay person to understand.
As long as science or scholarship remains enshrined in technical language and laden with heavy jargons, it will need science journalists/reporters who can communicate with scientists and help translate the new developments accurately and clearly, especially for the less erudite members of society who need the information most to thrive-or try to-in their day-to-day lives.
Environment is now a mainstream subject for the media and it is very exciting. This is a big subject that has not been looked at in detail in the past. Environmental journalism is now interrogating critically the relationship between man and nature.
But it isn’t easy plying science journalism in the developing world. Most news channels have very little space allocations for environment and science stories. Most journalists in this segment are correspondents whose monthly monetary gains are pegged on the number of stories published/aired, and very few successfully ‘compete’ for space.
This has, in fact, forced some to ditch science journalism and take to other areas of the profession enjoying favours with chief gatekeepers of specific media establishments or opt for more sustaining areas outside the profession.
The world over, one the most considered ways of furthering environment and science journalism and overcoming some of the difficulties aforesaid is the coming together of those with passion for it. The World Federation of Science Journalists is a living testimony to this.
It is for this that the coming together of environment and science journalists in Kenya to form the Kenya Environment and Science Journalists Association [KENSJA : www.kensja.org] marked a truly great turning point.
A truly great turning point in the relationships of this lot of hard working professionals who, difficulties notwithstanding, will always strive to bring to the people many fascinating as well as heart rending science stories in Kenya, and beyond; those always in the hunt to inform millions of people on new advances, setbacks and controversies in science for informed choices.
In Kenya today, for a truly science journalists’ association, KENSJA is the home for seasoned and upcoming science reporters and correspondents; it is the convergence point where experience and youthful vigour mixes admirably. If you want an association of environment and science journalists in Kenya , look no further than KENSJA.
Their coming together was the beginning. Keeping together has been progress and staying as one a huge success.
Society at large, we believe, can benefit from the fruits of science but for this to happen people need to understand and support science, and journalists act as a bridge between science and society. This does not only inform the public but creates interest and respect for science.
Written by Ochieng Ogodo, Kenyan member of the Media21 journalism network, he is The English-speaking Africa and Middle East region winner for the 2008 Reuters-IUCN Media Awards for Excellence in Environmental Reporting and chairman of the KENSJA.