The Naked Scientist in South Africa
Learning how to report on science was the theme of a recent conference held in Craighall Park, Johannesburg. Arranged by Paula Fray and associates, the 'Reporting Science' conference was aimed at journalists, editors and radio/ television producers.
This was the first conference of its kind in South Africa and the purpose of the conference was to build and strengthen journalists' awareness of science news and their skills in reporting and writing about science in accessible and interesting ways.
Michele Hofmeyr represented Sanparks scientific services to learn more about how to use the various media sources available in providing more coverage about the exciting science and research being done in the Kruger National Park.
Topics during the two days covered a wide range of issues including the challenge of science coverage in Africa, the effects of global climate change and how to find ways of telling science stories that will capture the imagination.
The presenters included Diran Onifade from Nigeria representing the World Federation of Science Journalists and popular British BBC personality and author, Dr Chris Smith who is better known as 'The Naked Scientist'.
Chris Smith, who has a radio show and an interesting, interactive website (thenakedscientists.com) provided humorous and innovative ways to "strip down science" so that the average person in the street can learn to understand how science affects their everyday lives.
The conference was followed by an intensive one-day workshop with The Naked Scientist and his production manager Ben Valsler, where scientists from various fields learnt the basics of how to compile a successful press release and what to include in order to make their science easier to translate for TV, radio or print.