In The Field

Journalism: Extremophiles

I’ve been looking towards today’s sessions because they focus largely on science in developing countries. I’m particularly interested in these sessions because I’ll be in India this summer, where I’ll be focusing on renewable energy development in rural villages.

So, one of my goals at the conference has been to meet science journalists from developing countries in order to prepare myself for life and work in India.

This morning’s panel was particularly encouraging. It was a plenary session comprised of six journalists from developing countries (including India) discussing some of the challenges of reporting on science. Some of the challenges include a lack of infrastructure, low literacy levels, lack of government support and reticent scientists. There’s no doubt about it – science reporters in Africa, South America and Asia often have to do some slogging in order to get their job done. One journalist, a reporter from Zambia, mentioned that the Zambian government regularly keeps track of science journalists who travel outside the country in order to cover stories.

But does this hinder these journalists, or discourage them? Not a chance. In fact, my favourite remark was by Christina Scott, a South African journalist with SciDev.Net: “Science journalists in developing countries are like extremophile bacteria,” she quipped. “We’ve evolved to thrive in extreme environments.”

Extremophile Journalism. I like that. In fact, I’m thinking of having it printed on my business card.

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