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[HELSINKI] There is a time— well, only a few years ago— when blogs were a weird niche hobby that existed on the fringes of the media. But that seems to be first disappearing as the World Conference of Science Journalists in Helsinki heard.
"When I began blogging, I would ask for information and be told I think you have all you need for a blog," says Ed Yong, one of the session panellists, who blogs for the National Geographic. That time is over; science blogging has earned credibility and established itself as a reputable medium for communication.
The other three bloggers in the panel represented science blog networks for Wired Science, Scientific American and The Guardian. So how does one get to write for these prestigious blogs?
"Getting bloggers is tricky as you must get people you trust who have a track record. It took me nine months to recruit," says Bora Zivkovic, blogs editor at Scientific America.
Blogging provides the writer with freedom to select their topic and does away with editorial support. However, the downside of it is that a blogger rarely earns a living wage. Blogging in a reputable network does however provide a platform to promote the bloggers work a lot faster than going it alone.
Each of the networks reports an interest in expanding their outreach but none of them talks about recruiting from Africa. I raised the question about why they were not interested in bloggers from the continent.
"African science bloggers need to get themselves known. Those who are interested need to approach these networks," says Betsy Mason, science editor at Wired Science.
African science bloggers are clearly not visible. Although I raised the question, I don’t know any African science blog. Africans need to put up our own blogs; to support one another and build a voice within the continent. It is upon us to step up our game.
Tabitha Mwangi, Wellcome Trust funded intern