EIAR holds Agricultural Biotechnology Media Network workshop

Under the scheme of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) -Ethiopia program, Media Network workshop was being held on 24th March 2018at Capital Hotel, Addis Ababa. The workshop aimed at strengthening the network for effectually communicating agricultural biotechnology research outputs and their impacts based on empirically evidenced knowledge and information found in the country and somewhere else abroad.

In preliminary of the workshop, Dr. Endale Gebre, OFAB Ethiopia secretariat, informed the  participants that balanced ideas on agricultural biotechnology has been forthcoming from time to time amongst the media community and implied that the efforts we have been effecting has brought about changes among journalists, reporters, editors as far as awareness on biotechnology is concerned. He emphasized that the media award and training workshops, study tours, and other sensitization activities of the program has certainly induced an impact in the media. In his welcoming remarks, he added that despite its impact at this level, still a lot needs to be done the fact that high dynamics in the system. This is therefore, the media network is very useful in playing tremendous roles to bring the media and the general public to the required level of awareness with factual information, he noted.

Dr. Tadesse Daba, Director for Agricultural Biotechnology Research in EIAR also noted that such like media network is useful not only to communicate the positive aspects of agricultural biotechnology but also its adverse side if it is scientifically found. But in most instances, the discourse among the media and the general public with the science lacks scientifically validated information. Thus, the delivery of this workshop should focuses on the need to create  awareness through building required level of knowledge and skill on the use of appropriate media methods, tools and channels of communicating agricultural biotechnology research results for greater impact based on available empirically evidenced information, he emphasized.

Status and progress of EIAR technology and information delivery were shared among the participants of the workshop by Fisseha Zegeye, Director for PCIPR Directorate in EIAR. In his a brief presentation, Mr. Fisseha noted that biotechnology is one of modern science which is in progress to be applied in the research system responding to those challenges in boosting the sector’s production and productivity, quality, performance of releasing disease and pest resistant varieties and breeds, and the like. He said that the role of media in this regard is very pivotal in advancing awareness level of various segment of the societies with the right information through story making, articles, programs, documentaries, etc.

On top of this, the participants of the workshop discussed important issues in science journalism and data reporting based on the training entitled “SCIENCE JOURNALISM WRITING AND REPORTING SCIENCE TOPICS FOR THE MEDIA” by Dr. Yohannes Shiferaw. In his presentation Dr. Yohannes explained the participants with elements of journalism, important of news values for science, knowing and catering to audience, finding science stories, identifying sources for science stories, writing styles and considerations in science reporting, and ethics in science journalism.

Finally, the trainees reflected their opinion on the training workshop and suggested the need of organizing supplement training to improve their knowledge and skill on the subject. After presentation on ToR of steering committee of the media network, and the criteria for next media award, the workshop was terminated with a wrap up and the way forward, such as (1) strengthening the media network through succeeding training workshops (2) updating and finalizing ToR for the steering committee of the network, (3) deciding on next meeting for steering committee to finalize the ToR and developing action plan, (4) creating free access of biotech-updates on the OFAB web page.