Effective science communication requires more collaboration between researchers, communications officers, and journalists. This was one of the key messages at the two-day science reporting workshop in Accra jointly organised by the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), the UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT), and the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC).
The workshop, dubbed “Reach & Turn”, brought together 50 participants — researchers, communications officers, and journalists — from Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Togo. The aim of the workshop was to shed light on the social responsibility of science, and to show how all members of the knowledge ecosystem can partner together and co-create.
The first day of the workshop emphasised the need to communicate research findings — not only to scientists but also to policymakers and the general public — in clear, compelling, and inclusive language. The workshop encouraged researchers to consider policymakers and the general public as part of the target audience for their research activities, and to modify and present research findings in formats that are easily accessible. Participants were urged to try to communicate key research findings to non-experts using such communication products as policy briefs, fact sheets, blog posts, and social media platforms.
Discussions on the second day focused on how communications officers and journalists can take advantage of the new media landscape to widely disseminate research findings to the general public. Participants discussed the importance of citizen journalism: reporting of news events by the public using various media platforms. The workshop laid emphasis on how the concept of citizen journalism can be used by researchers to share information with journalists and the general public. Participants also discussed the principles of environmental advocacy, and identified the need to have media campaigns on environmental issues to bring about change in public attitudes.