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I've always wondered about the status of science journalism in Asia and the challenges facing this particular field in Asian newsrooms. Obviously, the print media have their science and technology pages but do these pages really get to their intended audience? What of Asian readers? What do they need as far as science reporting is concerned. Are these needs being met? So many questions and hopefully, lots of answers/feedback as well :)

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Hi Lee,
In fact, most of the Asian newspapers and other media outlets are still to comprehend the real potential associated with science journalism. As science journalists, we must think scientfically to figure out core problems of science journalism - not only in Asia, but in other developing nations from around the world.

In this regard, we - and the other people who want to strenghthen science journalism in developing world - must acknowledge that we can report very little on R&D from within our countries. Because, there is very little R&D in our countries! It is therefore, we always need to look for the "imported themes" for our science journalism. Shall keep updating you with my thoughts - Take care
Hi Aleem,
I do understand what you mean by the lack of R&D materials as well as the tendency to look elsewhere -- particularly the West where such materials are flourishing -- to be able to produce a story. I won't pretend to be a true-blue science journalist because I'm not although I've had experience in writing several science and technology-related pieces although I probably just 'skimmed the surface'. We do have sci and tech pages in our papers but these are oftentimes overlooked what with the majority of the population so preoccupied by politics and entertainment news. But sometimes I tend to believe that there's really no lack of R&D materials. It is highly possible that there's lots of it lying around out there, waiting to be 'discovered'; it's just that we need to find a way to wade through the highly technical stuff and make it highly palatable to the public. Unfortunately, not too many journalists are trained for science reporting, at least in my country. It's not just about being in the health beat, it's not just about reporting the latest cell phone model.. science reporting is definitely more than that.
Yes Lynette, si communication is definitely more than just a report on latest model of cell phone.Its main aim should be to inculcate among masses what first prime minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru termed as 'Scientific temper' long back around 1950 .India is amongst very few countries of the world which brought out a full fledged 'Science policy'', thanks to the efforts of Pt. Jawahar lal which is upgraded also recently.It incorporates among other things to instill scientifi outlook among common public.Still there are so much superstiitions,orthodox beliefs and many unscietific rituals among our masses posing great challenges to new breeds of sci communicators.Do you know every year more than ten thousand people die out of snake bites in India but still people throng to quacks to get a cure for it while anti snake venom is in plenty at primary health centers.Clealy the info to treat a snake bite patient with antivenom has still not reched to common man in convincing manner.Here lies a role and responsibility of a sci communicator.This is just an example there are many........
I think this clinging on to superstition and unscientific health solutions is not only a product of a strict adherence to tradition and blind faith. Other reasons are lack of education and the problem of economics. For as long as people have no access to good and affordable healthcare system, they will continue to resort to risky healing methods. I am not saying that all forms of alternative medicine are bad. It's just that some people can go to extremes on this matter. Then there's the lack of proper information and lack of follow-up on the part of educators [perhaps due to problems in budget, logistics, peace and order, manpower, etc]. In my country, especially in remote villages, it's a combination of these two things -- medicine can be quite expensive so people are forced to rely on self-medication and more often than not, they resort to what we call 'albularyo' or an herb doctor. There are success stories but more often than not, the patient's condition get worse for lack of proper treatment. Thanks for your reply Dr Arvind. Really appreciate it :)
Yess Lynette I must appreciate your views and understanding of the subject especially the economic aspects.Its really a pathetic saga that bad economic conditions often leave no alternatives but to resort to easilly available cures for many village people in India too.And of course, lack of proper education and access to relevant info is another setbak.'Kharbiraia'[herbal cures ]are also most sought after medication in place of costly modern medicines.A lot has to be still done at least in IN india to adresss these problems and it is an area where a science communicator can really play a remarkable role.THANKS
I do not know about your country, Lynette. But I would like to believe, matters are improving a little in India. At least some newspapers have introduced science and technology pages now. When I joined the profession two decades ago, there were just a couple all over the country. When you realize how vast this country is, you can imagine how sad the situation was.

Not that things are perfect now. Rarely does one have newspapers carrying something on new scientific achievements, or medical research. Probably because there are no committed scribes reporting on these matters, and very few with a science background to take any active interest in such developments.
What I'm concerned about is the lopsided coverage of science and technology topics as there is a tendency, at least in my country, among the reading population to be interested only in, say the latest gadgets and thus perhaps unconcsiously think of this one aspect as the whole of science and technology. It's the same with health and medicine. There have been a few dedicated publications that consistently presenting significant scientific trends and discoveries, but it's not the same with the others. It's just a pity that most end up with PR pieces and not enough in-depth but easy-to-understand articles on science and technology. Thanks, however, for replying to this post. :)
One thing that hampers science communication in Asia is the definition of what constitutes science. Science is often seen as too big and complex to report and often, as outside the local culture - like high energy physics, nanotech or gene transfer. However in Indonesia and elsewhere I have found very excellent applied science - which makes great stories. Often the place for these stories is not the daily media, but in farming papers, industry magazines and specialist programs on radio or TV. One approach is to focus on science which may seem humble, but is clearly practical and very useful - and use the media that reach the people who will use it.
There are some dedicated newspapers that focus on technology, but there are few takers of science in Indian newspapers. However, most of the technology news stories are business driven. India is emerging an a hardware/software hub, thus industry demands coverage. I attend at least 10 tech conferences every week. But attended only one related to ISRO in months. So, whatever technology coverage we see today is owing to industry news, other wise a few newspapers covers science news stories in bits and pieces.

You can have a glimpse of some hot and controversial technology covered by Indian media:

By the way what is your take on the subject?



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