The availability of information on the impact of scientific developments — both positive and negative — is paramount to the effective functioning of democracy. But a recent survey of South Africa's leading newspapers and magazines shows that less than two per cent of editorial space in the country's leading publications is devoted to science and technology.
In this article, Carine van Rooyen, who led the survey, argues that the press is one of the most important vehicles through which science news can be distributed. Print media lends itself to investigative in-depth reporting, but unfortunately, this benefit is not being harnessed effectively, she says.
A shortage of committed science writers is one reason for the lack of science and technology coverage. Newspaper editors also play a part in keeping science and technology news out of South Africa's press.