Science Journalism-building public engagement in science

“I saw on TV…”, “I heard on radio…” and “I read in the newspaper…” are phrases that catch our attention. In the 21st century, the mass media has become the most influential medium that communicates to large numbers of individuals. News is the building block that helps us to construct an understanding of the world we live in, and science and technology (SandT) are principal dynamics in shaping tomorrows world. Research and innovation have been acknowledge as key factors in meeting the numerous challenges of our time such as energy supply, food security, health and mobility, environmental changes etc. Being key challenges, public and policy makers must be provided the information that is obligatory to call science and technology to account. For the reason, there is an increasing need of independent science journalism and science communicators to interpret, explain and comment on the results of scientific research and technological development.

Globally, the public communication of SandT – Science Journalism, is expanding rapidly as a professional and academic field. In developed counties science journalism is accelerating because of advances in information and communication technology (ICT) that facilitates scientific and methodological reporting and scientists are reaching the pubic and policy makers through blogs and social media tools. Momentarily, Pakistan has made a phenomenal progress in SandT and ICT in the past two decades, on the other hand, to what extent the science and scientific knowledge is transmitted to the common masses remains a tricky question in Pakistan?

Science journalism appears to be flourishing in developing counties and journalists are now operating a new science-media ecosystem where scientists and journalists are providing original discoveries directly to the general public instead of going through the official publishing process. Science services made the first sustained effort at gathering and dissemination consistently credible, engaging and understandable news of science and emerging technologies to a nationwide audience through the easily accessible mainstream media. The emerging field of science journalism sought to produce a science-minded public able to appreciate, and willing to support and understand science and technology and scientific research.

Because of the importance of SandT, it is important that science journalists show how science actually works. That goes beyond just editorials about remarkable expansions in science but includes information about the organizations and funding of scientific research too. Scientific writing or science journalism remains embryonic in Pakistan and there are many dimensions to the problems. Unfortunately the large segments of the population even do not have access to scientific knowledge due to illiteracy and in absence of critically planned science policy for dissemination of scientific knowledge to non-scientific community. Although, Pakistans engagement in scientific activities is multiplying and diversifying but, science journalism is very much limited and mainstream media coverage on issues related to SandT is alarmingly poor and limited. Conversely, low priority in science journalism in the mainstream media is also deeply rooted in the countrys journalism history.

The idea that, to be successful, a technology must meet local needs, conditions and resources for social development. I would say there is definitely a future for science journalism in Pakistan. There is a need for scientific reporting about developments in science and technology, including science policy and science funding. Last but not the least, a multi-prolonged strategy is required to make science journalism effective in our society for that scientific platform should be created to engage scientists and media practitioners to have close discourse on issues relating to scientific and technological developments in Pakistan.

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