Press release

Workshop targets African press officers to help improve media coverage of African research

Offering opportunities for press officers from African research institutes to develop their knowledge and skills could be an important step in improving media coverage of African science, according to the organisers of a workshop taking place as part of the World Conference of Science Journalists 2011.

The all-day workshop, supported by the Wellcome Trust, Stempra, SciDev.Net and the World Conference of Science Journalists, will bring together the expertise of top press officers and journalists to offer advice, discussions and networking opportunities, specifically tailored to African scientific and medical research institutions. A limited number of bursaries are being offered for press officers wishing to attend the event.

Dr Elspeth Bartlet from the University of York, UK, who is organising the event, says: "Attempts to improve science reporting in the media have traditionally focused on training journalists and scientists, but press officers, with their knowledge of their research institution and of the media landscape, can provide the bridge that brings together these parties.

"African journalists say that they can easily access research stories from international institutions, but struggle to find out what is going on in institutions in their own countries. There is excellent research taking place in Africa and it is important that research institutions are in a position to tell their stories. There is a clear need to develop and support press officers to improve the current situation."

The event is intended to help participants to:

  • persuade research directors and scientists of the value of media coverage
  • recognize newsworthy developments
  • use the media to disseminate research findings effectively
  • make their stories accessible and clear without compromising accuracy
  • understand how the press works
  • provide journalists with what they need to cover a story
  • build effective relationships with journalists.

Speakers at the event include Charles Wendo, Editor of the Ugandan newspaper 'New Vision' and Chair of the Ugandan Health Communication Alliance; Joseph Warungu, BBC World Service, Africa; and Justa Wawira, Head of External Relations, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya.

Registration for this event is US$100 or is available free to delegates at the World Conference of Science Journalists. Press officers or other staff with a media liaison role from scientific organisations in African countries can apply for a bursary to cover the cost of their travel, accommodation and registration for the World Conference of Science Journalists. Bursary places are strictly limited and the organizing committee will award the bursaries based on criteria of the potential impact of science/health developments at the candidate's place of work and the training needs of the individual. The deadline for applying for a bursary place is 31 March.

The World Conference of Science Journalists will take place from 27-29 June, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

Details of the workshop can be found here.