By Jean-Marc Fleury
(BBC) - Reaching the ambitious targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will require the participation of everyone, not least of whom are the people of poorer countries themselves.
Development, after all, is not something thrust upon people, but a process in which people engage, in which they are both actors and beneficiaries.
For people to act effectively, however, they must be informed. And that is the role of media and journalists in both developed and developing worlds.
Defining development journalism
This, however is not what some are calling “development journalism.” Development journalism is an oxymoron.
Developing countries need good journalism and good journalists, period. And they need journalists industrious enough to look beyond the polished news releases and briefings put out by well endowed foreign organizations, curious enough to find local sources of expertise, brave enough to present home-grown solutions to pressing development problems.
The task is not easy. Ironically, information about local research is often more difficult to obtain than the work of experts in Northern institutes of higher learning and international organizations.
Developing-country scientists and researchers may also be more reluctant to talk to media, for a host of reasons political and otherwise. And they may be less skilled at presenting their message.
Lack of training
Journalists themselves often lack the training needed to understand both the content and language of research, and its importance to national development efforts. Limited press freedom must sometimes also be factored in.
Overcoming these hurdles requires training both researchers and journalists. Efforts need to be made to strengthen the capacity of developing-world journalists to cover local research to ensure that their societies benefit from the contributions of their best minds.
A number of organizations are now doing so. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and London-based SciDev.Net, for instance, are collaborating in making the results of developing-country research better known around the world.
They are also supporting the World Conference of Science Journalists to be held next October. The conference will provide a unique opportunity for journalists to share expertise and exchange experiences in covering development, not as a separate beat but as the very fabric of national social, political, and economic life...(BBC Worldservice)
Jead is theDirector of Communications (IDRC) and Executive Director of the World Conference of Science Journalists in Canada
Towards the end of the 20th century, countries from around the world signed a Declaration to achieve a set of common goals known as the MDGs. These eight (8) goals to be achieved by 2015 respond to the world’s main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.
Consequently, in September this year countries will again gather at the UN Millennium Summit to review progress made in the past ten years given that the targets in meeting the MDGs are just five years away.
The term “development journalism” is used to refer to two different types of journalism. The first is a new school of journalism which began to appear in the 1960s. The idea behind this type of development journalism is similar to investigative reporting, but it focuses on conditions in developing nations and ways to improve them. (From: WiseGeek)
Pacific Alliance of Development Journalists