A Paradigm shift in Science Journalism
Like other countries of the world, Pakistan’s academia has drawn a line between humanities and the general sciences and this division probably more absolute than the past because it seems almost practically impossible for a student to engage him/herself simultaneously in two different subjects.
But still, a lot of people are interested in both and willing to read, write, or to know about what is happening in the various fields of science.
This is not because the storytelling defines us as a human but it’s natural to be attracted by a scientific explanation of what we humans are, where did we come from and what is our place in this vast universe?
Science writing can play an important role in engaging a layman with science & technology and modern advancement. Consequently, it brings the work of researchers and scientists from the observatories/lab to the public spotlight.
A science writer does not always need detailed, in-depth expertise, but should have a vast and up to date knowledge of a particular field of science and concerned topics.
But the effort to become a science writer does not end here, a true passion and the ability to narrate pure scientific concepts to a non-scientific reader are mandatory as well.
The newly emerging field of science writing has caught the attention of an overwhelming number of people have good skills in writing. In the western culture, the students usually kick off their career as a freelancer during their schooling, but here in Pakistan, neither it is promoted by our academic intuitions nor by print or electronic media.
At its best, science writing is an emerging field of journalism that needs more than a desire to become a science writer. It is a matter of fact that a fewer number of writers broken into the profession through science blogging in Pakistan.
Since it’s not so easy to make a career, it almost always takes month or years of unpaid labor.
For most of the beginners, science blogging is not a standalone strategy but a tool for spreading awareness and passion for science among the masses.
I have been in print and electronic media for two years and with hundreds of my write-ups including but not limited to astronomy, astrobiology, and space-based astronomy, I tried hard to promote the passion of science writing in our new generation.
When I started my writing career from ARY NEWS, there were fewer members of the science community who believe that science can be a genre in mainstream media.
Eventually, the interesting write-ups by a few other passionate science writers helped more writers to come forward, define their beats and further hone their skills into this vibrant new digital age.
Consequently, the great motivation I got from the success stories of Pakistani scientists working abroad in NASA, ESA, and world’s top universities like Harvard and Oxford universities, whom I interviewed at times and had a meaning conversation on the lack of scientific research and writing in Pakistan, I came across a conclusion that the “bad science” our academia has been providing to our new generation is the backbone behind this lagging.
There are a fewer number of individuals have been struggling hard to make science as a genre and to reshape the narrative of science journalism in Pakistan.
The monthly Urdu science magazine “Global science” had been promoting science for more than a decade and now a few of other publications are waving in print and electronic media as well. Arguably, the best science and technology magazine in the country at the current moment is technology times, whereas MIT technology review and Spectra magazine by UET Lahore students are making their way out to in journalism.
Eventually, with the support of the journalist community, a handful of science enthusiast and writers has recently been launched an online English astrophysics magazine “Scientia” which is the first of its kind in Pakistan. No doubt this is the much-needed initiative that provides the equal number of opportunities to skilled science writers who decide to strike out as a freelancer and having a passion of promoting astrophysics, astronomy, astrobiology, Space & Earth Sciences.
This is a unique opportunity for local talent either writers, science communicators, researchers, or astro-photographers to show their talent on a genuine platform worldwide and also to tell science stories to a lay reader in Pakistan.
The magazine contents like special science outreach reports, astro-photography, kids’ corner, and random astronomy articles give a chance to local talent to grow and evolve.
The new government got overwhelming attention of common people in Pakistan with their slogan “NAYA PAKISTAN”, as per pre and post-election announcements the government beckons towards framing a new people-centered development paradigm to provide basic needs like quality education, health, and employment facilities on an equal basis.
However, these efforts will bear no fruit unless we come across a scientific framework of all problems either social, economic, environmental or else.
We are hopeful that the government and public sector will strengthen its foothold in this sector so people can have better understanding of everyday problems as government’s help can reshape the narrative of science journalism in Pakistan.