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“I’m a South African Science Journalist, Ask Me Anything” – Read Sarah Wild’s Reddit AMA

InnovationInnovasieSarah Wild, one of South Africa’s leading science journalists and author of Innovation: Shaping South Africa through Science, recently took part in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), in which Reddit users sign in to ask the participant any question they like.

The interview was hosted on the channel dedicated to South Africa, with questions ranging from “Why is science so badly reported in South Africa?” and “What is the most exciting science developments you think South Africans should look forward to in the next five years?” to “How would one go about getting their book published in South Africa?” and “How senile is Tim Noakes really?”

Read the AMA to see how Wild answered these pressing questions:

What is the level of cooperation between scientists and the media in South Africa?

  • Are you satisfied with the level of communication between scientists and journalists?
  • Is there something like a “professional scientists’ press club” – a collection of go-to scientists in different fields that journalists can contact in case of an applicable story breaking?
  • Is it easy for scientists to suggest a story to journalists? Typically, a scientist will know about an interesting event long before the media catches on.

Different people have different experiences of this. I understand some scientists are very suspicious of journalists because they have been burned by the experience of interacting with them.

I have never had that problem, and I know that my science journalist colleagues have very good relationships with scientists in this country.

So, 1. I am satisfied with my communication with scientists, but I can’t speak to general reporters. 2. There is an association: South African Science Journalists Association (for journos and comms). But the South African science space is relatively small. It is not difficult to pick up a phone and find a specialist. 3. Scientists often contact me with stories — papers that they are publishing, problems they have, etc. But that is the result of years of relationship building.

Innovation: Shaping South Africa through Science is also available in Afrikaans as Innovasie: Hoe wetenskap Suid-Afrika vorm. It was published in August and celebrates all the science and innovation happening in South Africa right now, addressing real problems on the ground and helping people in South Africa to live healthier, happier lives.


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