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Tech journalism awards to help develop skills

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The 2014 pan-African Profile Awards for science and technology journalism were launched to recognise the media’s role in communicating how science and technology support South Africa’s economic development.

“Journalists play a vital role in distilling complex science, technology and engineering into a language that business, government and the public can understand,” said Clifford Klaas, Executive Director Siemens Southern Africa, which started and supports the awards.

Siemens has introduced a new skills development programme to the 2014 Profile Awards. “We don’t want to only recognise established journalists,” Klaas said. “In 2014 we will also be working with SA universities to help develop journalists’ skills in science and technology reporting.

By 2030, South Africa is targeting a three-fold increase in people starting careers in science and technology, according to the National Development Plan. The NDP forecasts 450,000 students studying science and maths at university by 2030.

Siemens is partnering with four major universities, in the first instance in South Africa, for the first year of the Profile Awards’ training and development programme. Journalism students will be invited to specialist master classes aimed at equipping them to identify and produce quality science and technology stories.

A student arm of the Profile Awards has also been introduced. The 2014 Student Profile Awards are open to journalism students from across Africa, with five student journalists in line to be 2014 Student Profile Award winners.

The Profile Awards are supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). New Minister Naledi Pandor said that recognising working journalists and training student journalists would raise awareness about SA science and technology and its role in SA’s growth.

We rely on journalists to explain how science and technology are an engine for economic growth and a vital factor in building a knowledge-based economy,” Pandor said.

This is important for people in the world of work, and for parents and teachers in helping to encourage learners with an interest in science and technology to take it further.

In addition to entries from working journalists, the 2014 Profile Awards also allows nominations of journalists by their peers, government, business or the public.

Said Klaas: “The public engagement programme of the 2014 Profile Awards is crucial to raise awareness about the role of science and technology in our society and economy.

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