One of it is – science journalism. This is a branch of journalism that specialises in communicating science news to the public. This is an important area that needs to be nurtured to increase science literacy among our populace. It is pertinent that science news reaches the masses so that the society is well informed of current innovation and the need for it. It helps them to understand the technology and get them involved in decision making based on facts. Science literacy among school children too is crucial as this will inculcate interest in them to pursue careers in science. We are all well aware of the fact that Malaysia is still lacking of skilled workers and researchers.
Very few journalists have mastered this art and there are many reasons for it. Editors have a big role in increasing the frequency of science news in mass media. Most newspapers and electronic media do not have a science desk. Science news is covered by journalists who are not trained in science and is assigned based on need. This translates into distortion of science news. Scientists are reluctant to talk to the media fearing what they say may be misquoted which will tarnish their image among their peers. However, there are a few very good science writers, though this number is really very small and is largely outnumbered by their colleagues and editors who do not do justice to science news and coverage.
It would be good for all science courses to offer a module on science journalism to equip science graduates with science communicating skills. All science graduates will be involved in communicating science in one way or another in their working life and a module on science journalism will enable them to so efficiently.
I remember attending the launch of Pakistan Biotechnology Information Centre (PABIC) that was officiated by the Minister of Information in Islamabad. It was indeed really heartening to hear the minister announce that he will instruct the national television station to air snippets of biotech information during prime time. I wish Malaysia could follow suit. Imagine the number of people we could reach out if scientific information is aired during prime viewing time. This will enrich and transform our society into a science literate society.
By Mahaletchumy Arujanan