Professional standards of journalists who report on medical science, health and environmental science issues in Africa are largely undefined and unsupported by local associations or umbrella organizations. While human rights, HIV/AIDS and lately climate change reporting has understandably been the focus of many professional development courses, workshops and texts, this emphasis has largely been absent in guidelines and continuous training in science journalism both at the academic level and in professional practice. This paper examines the role of one model of peer-to-peer distance mentoring combined with yearly encounters with industry professionals in the development of science reporters in Africa, notably Kenya Cameroun, Rwanda and Uganda; their ability to expand and ameliorate reportage on science, health and environment in local media and to form their own professional associations and so broaden the base of science communication among scientists and journalists. Is this a sustainable theoretical model? (UNESCO for example tried to develop a science journalism program for developing countries in 2006 but this was discontinued.) Scholarship on norms of mentoring is extensive in institutional, educational, business and industrial settings but sparse in crosscutting journalism studies. Consequently, mentoring theory as applied to appropriate development, and sustainable values in emerging knowledge societies is largely absent from the discourse on science communication and non-academic science journalism education. This paper is based on an analysis of the mentoring model emerging from materials compiled over the course of a three-year program in peer mentoring, SjCoop, (2006-2009) developed by the World Federation of Science Journalists.

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Mentoring as a model for professional development of science journalism networks in Africa
The SjCoop project (2006-2009)

Kathryn O’Hara   Carleton University

Professional standards of journalists who report on medical science, health and environmental science issues in Africa are largely undefined and unsupported by local associations or umbrella organizations. While human rights, HIV/AIDS and lately climate change reporting has understandably been the focus of many professional development courses, workshops and texts, this emphasis has largely been absent in guidelines and continuous training in science journalism both at the academic level and in professional practice. This paper examines the role of one model of peer-to-peer distance mentoring combined with yearly encounters with industry professionals in the development of science reporters in Africa, notably Kenya Cameroun, Rwanda and Uganda; their ability to expand and ameliorate reportage on science, health and environment in local media and to form their own professional associations and so broaden the base of science communication among scientists and journalists. Is this a sustainable theoretical model? (UNESCO for example tried to develop a science journalism program for developing countries in 2006 but this was discontinued.) Scholarship on norms of mentoring is extensive in institutional, educational, business and industrial settings but sparse in crosscutting journalism studies. Consequently, mentoring theory as applied to appropriate development, and sustainable values in emerging knowledge societies is largely absent from the discourse on science communication and non-academic science journalism education. This paper is based on an analysis of the mentoring model emerging from materials compiled over the course of a three-year program in peer mentoring, SjCoop, (2006-2009) developed by the World Federation of Science Journalists.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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