2021 Audio - Silver

In a three-part series for the Africa Science Focus podcast of SciDev.Net―an online news site that covers science for the developing world―described how coronavirus cases and deaths had increased across Sub-Saharan Africa, how misinformation was spreading and affecting vaccine confidence, and how health specialists in Africa were mounting vaccination programs while also trying to calm patient fears. The team consisted of London-based Fiona Broom and Harrison Lewis and Africa-based reporters in Ethiopia (Brook Abdu), Zambia (Jubiel Zulu) and Malawi (Charles Pensulo). The judges praised the series as a great example of journalism in service to the community. “This engaging set of stories answered listeners questions in real time, tackling misinformation head-on, countering it with reliable and well-sourced information,” said judge Tina Hesman Saey, a staff writer for Science News. “Giving people correct information and dispelling myths and disinformation is one of the most important roles journalists could serve in this pandemic. The staff at SciDev.Net have served that role admirably.” Christie Aschwanden, a freelance science journalist and author, said the series featured “diverse voices and wide-ranging reporting on vaccine doubts, pervasive myths about COVID and questions about vaccines. The result is a compelling and unique look at how the COVID-19 pandemic is playing out in Africa.” As pandemic cases began rising in Africa, the SciDev.Net reporters “knew how easily COVID myths were spreading in their communities,” the team said. “They were popping up in their chats almost daily. We wanted to hear from scientists on the continent to find out how they were fighting their communities’ very real fears” and combating the widespread misinformation.