This paper focuses on the critical role of the media in communicating research information, using the experience of Panos Eastern Africa as a case study.
The need for research communication cannot be overemphasized. The paper argues that although research can be communicated in a number of ways – through academic journals, university libraries, policy briefs or dissemination meetings, media is not always considered as a pathway for its communication. The article further outlines PEA’s experience in bringing researchers and journalists together through Relay programme, based on the following premises:
- The media has the potential to promote more inclusive participation in debates around research and policy, providing a platform for a broader range of participants to join
- Broad engagement of researchers with the public has the potential to promote pro-poor policy change and ultimately more open, inclusive and democratic societies
- By engaging with the media, researchers are promoting the development of a public interest media sector that will improve the communication and influence their research programmes in the long term.
- The media creates awareness of the researchers’ activities and promotes transparency and accountability
- Helps to generate support for the researcher from various stakeholders and funders
- Ensures that results are shared beyond one organization and are used for the good of society
- Minimizes unnecessary duplication of work
- Enables researchers to influence public policy in their fields of expertise
- Reduces the cost on the individual researcher of public information dissemination
The paper outlines various innovative methodologies, such as workshops, training, media scans and fellowship opportunities. It describes their benefits and challenges in strengthening relationships between researchers and the media. Finally it provides a set of recommendations for the stakeholders involved and encourages dissemination of PEA’s methodologies to bring more research into the public domain.
This paper has been presented at the Health and Development Communication Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya on 27th – 29th June, 2011 by Lucy Atim, Acting Programmes Director at PEA.