By Maxwell Awumah, GNA Special Correspondent, Grahamstown, South Africa
Accra, Aug. 30, 2017 (GNA) – Mr Steven Lang, a PhD candidate of Science Communication, has called on stakeholders in policy, training and production of media contents in Africa to delve into radio astronomy and astrophysics to open the frontiers for science and technology. He said the radiance novelty, being offered by the development of the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope programme, embraced by Ghana, Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia, would open the frontiers of science and technology and needed continental ownership.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview on the sidelines of the Science Journalism Training workshop, a prelude to the 21st Annual Highway Africa Conference, Mr Lang, at the Rhodes University, Grahamstown, said science journalists in Africa were better placed to tell their own narratives than outsiders.
The programme is hosted by the Highway Africa in partnership with Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The conference, the largest assembly of African journalists, would help the debate on the interface of journalism, media and information and communication technology for development.
Mr Lang said the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope project in Africa, which would be the largest investment in the 21st Century, is expected to broaden the frontiers of science and technology.
« Astronomy and astrophysics must be an area to receive media attention and specialisation, » he added.
He, therefore, entreated editors to look beyond political, business, sports and advertisement space and embrace science reporting as core of news production and refrain from placing such stories in obscure positions.
Mr Lang noted that health stories that bordered on public health issues topped news stories generally patronised by editors but called for some mitigation.
He called for paradigm shift through sustained innovative skills training and development regimes since « everything around humanity is science. »
« Journalism training schools should, as a matter of urgency, begin to teach fundamentals of science reporting to hone interest in the subject area. Rhodes University is over 100 years old but yet to start science journalism course…. »
Professor Alan Whitfield, the Chief Scientist of South Africa’s National Research Foundation, said Africa was breaking more grounds in the sciences and there was need to interface with journalists to bring those researches from the laboratory shelves to inform policy decisions for accelerated growth.
« Scientists, by their nature, are not good communicators but journalists have been professionally trained to touch the nerves of the population by reporting on topical issues to stimulate change for public good. A good mutual working relationship cannot be overemphasised, » he said.
Prof Whtfield, also the head of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biology, said he expected governments, foundations as well as multinational not-for-profit organisations to prioritise their support for the training of journalists to report on science and technology to shore up the aspirations of the Continent.