Four journalists who dedicated themselves to reporting science and technology related developments were honored by the Department of Science and Technology Sept. 26 at the Manila Hotel. The journalists joined the ranks of DOST’s 50 Men and Women of Science as part of the celebration of DOST’s 50th anniversary.
“Journalists are, at heart, story tellers,” says Juan Mercado, a columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and its sister publication, the Cebu Daily News, and writes syndicated column for Sun-Star Cebu, Bohol Chronicle, and other community papers.
Journalists like him do not really choose to write about S&T, but they are given beats to cover, he said. But “in coverage, the reporter discovers a science or technology aspect. He ferrets out its significance and relevance—both for editors who are media’s gatekeepers and policy makers—to reach citizens,” he explains.
Meanwhile, Angelo Palmones, host of DZMM’s science-oriented program “Bago Yan, Ah!”, says that “science encompasses other fields of advocacy, especially on the environment.” He explains that the more he understands science, the more he appreciates it, which makes it easier to communicate his messages.
Queena Lee-Chua argues that “In today's world, knowledge of S&T is indispensable”. A noted columnist, book author, and professor who delivers her advocacy in multi-media platforms such as print, radio, television, Internet, and even via texting, Dr. Lee-Chua believes that “for our country to advance substantially, people need to be literate and numerate in S&T.”
Posthumous recognition went to Jose Burgos, who was known for his multi-awarded reports on science and agriculture journalism. His columns in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Today, and Business Star focused on agriculture and environment. He also wrote science-related articles as a special correspondent while serving as president/publisher and editor-in-chief of the Journal Group of Publications. His program “Sa Kabukiran” over DZMM was awarded “Most Outstanding Agriculture Program” in 1996.
Communication and science culture
Lee-Chua is convinced that communication can significantly help in developing a science culture in the country. “By making S&T down-to-earth, less abstract, and more ‘real life,’ good science communication can help bring about a true science culture in the country,” she said.
Palmones believes that applying science in reporting will not only make the reporter competent and his report credible but will also help in ensuring that justice is achieved, as in police cases.
Mercado sees it the same way, saying the science beat stands as a “welcome exception in Philippine media today” because other beats “are still fossilized hand-me-downs, from previous generations.” But he clarifies that in whatever beat, whether science, politics, ecology, or ethnic conflicts, it is the journalist’s ability to see the significance and relevance that separates the seasoned ones from the “kids”.