Science Journalism in Ghana: A Study of Journalists Who Cover Science
Science journalism has been studied from the perspectives of science journalists in the West. However, studies of science journalism from the perspectives of general reporters in developing or developed countries are scarce. This study was a survey of general reporters in Ghana belonging to the Ghana Journalists Association. In all, 151 members responded to a self-administered questionnaire that the researcher delivered to their worksites and a central location. Respondents were asked mainly about their demographic and professional characteristics, sources used for reporting science, number of science stories reported in the past 12 months, topics of science reporting interest, factors motivating or serving as barriers to science reporting, and the future of science journalism in Ghana. Data were analyzed using statistical tools and content analysis. The demographic and professional characteristics resembled those found previously in Ghana and elsewhere. The most commonly cited format of science journalism training was workshops or seminars after graduation. Health professionals and scientists were perceived as very important sources for science stories, and the respondents recalled interviewing them more frequently than others. Generally, respondents reported writing more science news stories than science features. There was an inverse correlation between the number of years spent in journalism and the number of science features reported (p = 0.017). Health science was the most commonly cited topic of reporting interest. Most respondents indicated that training in science journalism or access to scientific research findings would motivate them to report science more. Many cited lack of training in science reporting or lack of contact information for scientific researchers as barriers to science reporting. Many respondents said the current status of science journalism in Ghana is low, and most favored increasing the amount of science journalism, in part to promote public literacy in science. The findings indicate that Ghana should consider offering more science journalism training, particularly in journalism schools, and should promote ready access of journalists to research findings and to contact information of scientific researchers.