The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ), in an experimental initiative, has launched the first ever virtual science newsroom in Amman, Jordan, targeted at supporting the development of science journalism in Africa and the Middle East.
The Science Journalism Cooperation (SjCOOP), is a 3-year training scheme for budding science journalists in Africa and the Arab world which developed the newsroom.
The WFSJ reported the launch of the second phase of SjCOOP in January 2010, expected to end in December 2012, which is currently training some 80 science journalists in their respective languages.
“Journalists who pass phase two of SjCOOP with distinction will produce the content for the newsroom, while eight editors from different science media platforms in Africa and the Middle East will commission, edit and publish their work on their platforms,” said Gervais Mbarga, associate professor at Université de Moncton in Canada.
According to the SjCOOP project manager, Olfa Labassi, the virtual newsroom will initially run for next two months, until the end of phase two, when the WFSJ will decide how to develop it.
“We are working on the SjCOOP phase three proposal and we hope it will be launched by 2013,” he stated.
Labassi added that SjCOOP mentees are contributing to the dissemination of science information to the public nationally and regionally and that training them in high quality science journalism is “the best way to help move their societies.”
An expert and mentor within the Middle East commented that the phase three of the SjCOOP will be mandated in targeting comprehensive training to graduate science journalists who can produce multi-media stories.