The state of science journalism in South Africa

Abstract: In a country racked by violent crime, political infighting and scientific ignorance, the quest of the science journalist mirrors that of a famous Greek mythical hero... According to Greek mythology, Prometheus, a titan, forged mankind from clay, and knowing that mankind needed fire to survive, he lit a torch from the sun and brought it to Earth. Zeus considered the fire stolen, and was so incensed he punished Prometheus - an immortal - by having him chained to a rock, and a giant eagle tear at his liver every day. It's a myth imbued with themes of discovery, bravery and loyalty; but the bringing of knowledge, represented by fire, to mankind, is why the analogy of Prometheus is used by the University of Stellenbosch's Professor George Claassen to describe the state of science journalism in his country. Prof Claassen is the popular archetype of

You know what they say about what they say

Abstract: Science explains why you should beware those who employ the wisdom of they. You know what they say: a good man is hard to find. If you're nodding your head in agreement you're guilty of employing one the oldest tricks in the book of twisted logic, as well as a form of selective thinking popular with psychology. Don't feel bad, just about everyone does it. Forget war correspondents; investigative journalists are the real hardcore purveyors of the so-called 'fourth estate', because, like Jack Russells on acid, they'll dig and dig until their paws are bloody and the evidence of their digging is piled proudly next to them. They believe in following the trail to find the original source of a claim, because that is where you'll find not only true accountability but also the real nub of a story. Science journalists have to be investigative