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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Fellowship underscores the significance of collaboration among journalists and researchers

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Collaboration among African journalists and researchers can bring great rewards, such as improving impacts on research findings and scientific literacy on the continent, according to resource persons at the African Disease Reporting Fellowship (ADREF) 2024.

The ADREF programme, which had resource persons drawn from journalism, research and medical fields, underscored the need to break collaboration barriers and tackle biases often associated with African disease reporting.

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Speaking at Tuesday’s in-person session of the six-week programme, Mojeed Alabi, the head of the Development Desk at PREMIUM TIMES, noted that journalists and researchers must reach a middle ground by enhancing mutual trust and respect for a more impactful and informed society.

Mojeed Alabi, Head Development Desk, Newslodgeduring his presentation

According to Mr Alabi, to reach a middle ground, journalists must be courteous with researchers and avoid misrepresentation before publication, while researchers are expected to explain in simple terms the findings of specific research to journalists.

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“If journalists can’t get an expert’s opinion on a particular report, it doesn’t give a balanced reportage and that can make the journalist lose interest in doing a particular subject matter that should benefit the population,” he added.

ADREF is an initiative of the Africa Diseases Prevention and Research Development Initiative (ADRAP) with support from the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Akweyatv, Isumedia, Africa STI and Milkyway Travel Agency.

More comments, observations

In his comments, Oga Abah, a professor, cited examples of some traditional herbal practitioners who have been able to develop herbal medicines for some diseases but abruptly refused to reveal the details of their concoctions probably due to the approach of journalists or for some personal reasons.

The founder of ADRAP, Joseph Enegela, with experience in medical practice and public health administration, also underscored the need for African scientists and journalists to start reporting on health issues from African perspectives.

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The founder of ADRAP, Joseph Enegela

Mr Enegela encouraged journalists to become drivers of change in storytelling around African health issues, emphasizing the importance of breaking stereotypes in how stories are told about Africa and Africans.

Another facilitator, Onche Odeh, a journalist and development specialist, explained the processes of doing great stories from research and scientific publications.

Mr Odeh noted that journalists should identify the main character to focus on in a study and probe the author’s research purpose to ascertain the work’s relevance to society.

The in-person workshop of the ADREF programme which started on 21 April also had other sessions on tackling misinformation and disinformation in health reporting, how to pitch science stories, and perspectives on Africa’s major diseases or health challenges, among others.

More about ADREF

The maiden ADREF programme started with 14 African journalists from Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi after selection from over 100 entries.

The fellows include Millian Njeri from Kenya; Jean-Dieu Ndikumasabo from Burundi; Ridwan Dini-Osman, Ghana; Moses Kollie, Liberia; Francine Andrew, Rwanda; Adebowale Adedigba, Mariam Ileyemi, Zainab Adewale, Folashade Akpan, Agbonkhese Oboh, Nnenna Ibeh, Justina Asishana, Ojoma Akor, and Abdulbasid Yusuf from Nigeria.

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According to the organizers, the fellowship aims to hone the skills of journalists to report stories about diseases and scientific research about Africa from an African perspective.

The fellowship seeks to bridge the knowledge gap in health reporting by educating the participants on the latest tools and techniques, including understanding the social aspects of diseases, scientific developments, management strategies, policies, and research.

ADREF 2024 fellows

The fellowship spanning six weeks of training started with a virtual training that lasted for five weeks and a one-week intensive residential training tailored to enhance the reportorial skills of journalists covering health-related topics in Africa.

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