Science Journalism in Ethiopia: Evolving A Viable Science Communication Model For Scientific Awareness Among The Public.

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Addis Ababa University


In this thesis I analyzed the science communication strategy (model) of Ethiopia as a developing country with respect to the practice of science journalism. Since it is not very developed in Ethiopia I used the discussion of science popularization and communication models of developed countries, mainly U.S.A and U.K, to understand the differences and similarities between the roles of the actors. Moreover, I related the conflicts and the consensus between the scientists and journalists with the type of the science communication model (whether it is top down or more interactive). Investigation thus was made on science reports in the Ethiopian media using a survey and in-depth interviews with Ethiopian journalists who report science and a content analysis of newspapers with science sections. The content analysis showed that the majority of stories of newspapers (90%) were drawn from overseas (science magazines and Internet) and knowledge area of the stories were applied sciences particularly technology that is related with this modeling foreign source. No stories were found about controversial and risk communication in all the newspapers analyzed. The survey indicated that science journalism practices are partly influenced by time constraints, lack of specialized science reporters, few formal training in science, and no science service from the scientific institution. Almost 65% of the survey respondents doesn’t know the science and technology policy and do not maintain a link with the scientific institution. The interview showed that within the same line of the top-down communication model, the reporters of major newspapers do not interpret the accuracy problem as a consequence of the different roles of the institutions (journalists and scientists) indicating that there is no interaction between scientists and journalists in Ethiopia. Finally, the historical analyses of the popular science radio programs helped me to understand that the nature of the gap between scientists and public and the role of the scientific journalists are not the inevitable model of developing country, but socially constructed due to the roles of the actors. Accordingly, I suggest promoting scientific journalism to make the present situation of hierarchal science communication model to be more interactive due to the reflexive role of journalists.



Viable Science Communication