Cynthia Mauncho – KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme. Kenya
Irene Jao – KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme Kenya
Dorcas Kamuya – KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme Kenya
Noni Mumba – KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme Kenya
Roselyne Namayi – KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme Kenya
KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) engages with the public with the aim of building mutual understanding, trust and respect between researchers and the public. One of the approaches is through Media engagement. KWTRP has traditionally focused on dissemination of research and capacity building for researchers. Conversely, Africa has experienced poor research reporting, due to lack of journalist skills, compounded by poor researcher and journalist relations, leading to mutual fear and suspicion. KWTRP sought to create a platform for in-depth conversations and engagement between researchers and journalists, considering the key role media plays in agenda setting, opinion shaping, advocacy for evidence-based decision in health policy, and achievement of scientific growth.
Two initiatives aimed at enriching researcher and journalist relationships were employed; the 1st, was a workshop model for cross learning between researchers and science reporters. This brought together 25 journalists, science bloggers, 30 senior researchers in KWTRP, the Media council of Kenya and the Science communication teams. Using informal structures to encourage dialogue, the program included; - Topical presentations on the work environments for the researcher and the journalist, the media regulatory framework in Kenya, a soapbox session for experience sharing, and a panel discussion that triggered a conversation on ethics for both professions and challenges faced by researchers in creating appropriate messages.
Subsequently, both teams agreed to an extensive media tour, bringing together 20 regional reporters and over 30 researchers at different levels of their careers. This included a tour of KWTRP, group discussions on ongoing research and subsequent practical skills training from the journalists on framing messages for the media.
The activities have helped in better relations between the journalists and researchers resulting in comprehensive media articles, researchers proactively seeking to work with media colleagues and journalists working with KWTRP researchers to improve their reporting, while being open to criticism.
The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.