Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLW)has bemoaned lack of specialisation of fact-based science reporting in the country’s media to address this challenge, MLW has introduced the Journalists in Resident which is aimed at enhancing its media engagement as part of its Public Engagement strategy.
MLW, an affiliate of University of Malawi’s constituent College of Medicine, conducts biomedical research on high burden health problems in the country. Its research sites are at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), Blantyre areas and clinics, Chikwawa and Thyolo.
The program will also enhance interaction between MLW researchers and the media.
Speaking during a two-day Journalists in Resident training workshop in Blantyre, MLW’s Media Relations Officer, Greyson Chapita, said they introduced the media trainings since 2012 after noting that health coverage in local media was mostly about events and policy pronouncements by event organizers.
”There is inadequate skills and knowledge to pursue complex health issues due to lack of training, and also traditionalism in the newsrooms leading to rigidity to embrace new concepts and techniques, especially at the editorial level,” said Chapita.
Chapita said MLW believes in engaging with various stakeholders including the media about its research and health in general. He therefore called on the local media to put more effort on science reporting.
He added that MLW has been undertaking the trainings as one of the media engagement activities under the Science Communication Department thereby addressing most challenges related to science reporting.
This year, MLW is introducing a new program called Journalists in Resident through which a few journalists will be selected and attach them to specific research themes where they will be able to pursue stories from that particular theme and provide them with mentorship and resources to do their work effectively
He said “We are putting in place a proper monitoring mechanism and documentation of the published or broadcast materials. The programme will also involve the researchers and media trainers in the evaluation of stories produced and reward the journalists by recognizing them at the annual Malawi Southern Africa Media Awards”.
Under the Journalists in Resident programme five reporters will be recruited every year with about 20 news stories to be published every year based on MLW work.