While science journalism in developed countries is facing a crisis, there are a growing number of exciting opportunities for science journalists in the developing world, says senior Harvard fellow Cristine Russell.
The economic downturn has hit the Western science writing community hard, with staff and budget cuts, and lighter stories about consumer health and fitness often stealing the limelight from important scientific developments, argues Russell. Yet there is a growing demand for local stories about science and the environment in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Next week's World Conference of Science Journalists in London perhaps best exemplifies the growing international nature of science journalism, says Russell. Around 600 journalists, from 70 countries, are expected at the conference — to discuss common concerns and build core science journalism skills.
New multimedia and communication technology can help developing world journalists cross boundaries to access and research science stories and reach the global public in innovative ways.
But journalism and science organisations must find better ways to train reporters and scientists in science writing, making sure that the characteristics of good journalism — accuracy, context and editorial independence — are not lost in the eagerness to use new technology.