A note from Sarah Wild:
I’ve been a science editor for a while, responsible for science desks at Business Day and the Mail & Guardian newspapers. At each publication, people pushed me to set up a training desk, to “create a new generation of science journalists”.
But I always held back: it seemed really unfair to train people for jobs that were not there. South Africa has a handful of science journalists, in an industry where budgets are shrinking and where science is seldom high on commissioning editors’ priority lists.
That’s where this project came from. By training postgraduates and future scientists to write about their research, we would be boosting public scientific literacy and doing our small bit to make South Africa a better place.
It is important for scientists to be part of the public discourse, adding their knowledge to important national debates, whether it is drought relief, genetically modified foods, nuclear energy or fracking, vaccinations, public health interventions and many, many others. If our scientists are not weighing in with their specialist knowledge, we are ceding that space to lobbyists and politicians.
South African science and research is also an area in which this country can find much needed good news: it is filled with men and women of all races and backgrounds who are working to find solutions to many of South Africa’s problems.
Science Today aims to help these postgrads tell their stories.