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Building science journalism capacity in the SADC region
Author: Media: Faculty of Science
Published: 04/12/2023

How did the media in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region report on devastating natural disasters such as Cyclone Freddy or the Durban floods, and who are the role players that can help journalists to better inform the public?

This is just one of the topics that science journalists, science communicators, and experts will discuss during the second SADC Regional Science Journalism Programme that will take place on 4-5 December 2023 at the CSIR International Convention Centre (CSIR ICC) in Pretoria.

The SADC Regional SADC Science Journalism Programme is the legacy of the first Science Journalism Short Course for SADC and African journalists that was hosted by Stellenbosch University in December 2022, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology, the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation's Regional Office in Southern Africa (UNESCO-ROSA), the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (NRF-SAASTA), and the South African Science Journalists' Association (SASJA).

Ms Anneline Morgan, senior programme officer at SADC, says the SADC Protocol on Science, Technology, and Innovation, adopted in 2008, has as overall objective to foster co-operation and promote the development, transfer, and mastery of science, technology, and innovation in the region. One of the objectives of this protocol is to “demystify science, technology, and innovation by promoting public understanding and awareness and meaningful participation in these disciplines".

In this regard, the media as watch dog have a critical role to play in terms of enabling, organizing, and structuring debate, and alerting the public to matters that might otherwise have been ignored.

Ms Mandi Smallhorne, president of the South African Science Journalism Association (SASJA), says African countries would benefit from a well-prepared, trained, and resourced cohort of journalists: “With well-equipped and confident journalists, the public is also empowered to make responsible decisions and comments regarding fake news and misinformation," she adds.

Other topics to be discussed at this year's sessions are sustainable journalism in the SADC region; an in-depth look at science and indigenous knowledge systems; writing about the fundamental sciences; and reporting on science in indigenous languages.

New partners supporting this year's programme include the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). The programme is part of side-events in the run-up to the Science Forum South Africa that will take place from 6-8 December 2023. Click here for the programme.

In-person participation is by invitation only, but online participants are welcome to join any of the sessions at these links:


 4 December: 9:00 – 16:00

5 December: 09:00 – 15:00

Graphic: "Drink Up" by C.F. Basson