There is still much room for the entrenchment of Solutions Journalism (SoJo) in developing nations loaded with what may seem to be unlimited socio-economic problems including basic human needs.
Journalists in the continent- especially those in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania – where Science Africa is also actively involved on a daily basis with media houses, journalists’ associations, individual journalists and university students, are keen on sharpening their SoJo skills.
However, the memory of the official launch of SoJo which was loaded with not very hidden skepticism mostly by those who had never interacted with Science Africa remains vivid. Two journalists made it clear that there was no room for SoJo in their beat and more so when launched at a science conference.
The launch had been scheduled to coincide with the 8th KEMRI Annual Scientific and Health Conference of 14th-16th February 2018 which was also attended by researchers from other continents. It served as a major starting point and an opportunity for journalists who were also undergoing training including assignments to identify, pitch and generate credible SoJo stories.
However, others who seemed only worried about being indulged in public relations quickly noted the difference and the untapped potential to credibly and effectively inform and educate their audience based on the four pillars- People’s Response, Evidence and the Effectiveness, Insight and Limitation.
Solutions Journalism has actively changed how journalists and newrooms report news and there is still room for improvement. Some of the journalists who attended the launch of 2018, are now editors, senior writers, heads of professional media associations and are among our top trainers in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
Angela Oketch who was among the pioneer SoJo trainees and is now a leading trainer was awarded an international scholarship to Colombia Journalism School in USA with strong recommendations from Science Africa.
Additionally, some of the newsrooms trained under the SOJO newsroom program by Science Africa have gone ahead to have key focal persons for SOJO in their newsrooms who help in checking whether the stories meet SOJO threshold. For instance, Steve Nsamaza of Rwanda Dispatch and Jael Namiganda of Metro FM in Uganda.
In practical terms #SolutionsJournalismDay– October 26! is a major success towards sustainability. Already, a number of universities including–Rongo University and Kibabii Universities in Kenya, Makerere University in Uganda and the University of Rwanda associated with Science Africa are introducing SoJo in their journalism curriculum.