From the Philippines, Shaira Panela, science journalist joins Real Scientists

From Sydney, Australia to the Philippines, this week Real Scientists heads to South East Asia to spend the week with science  journalist, researcher and producer Shaira Panela/@ShaiPanela.

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Shai started out studying for a science degree, when she was bitten by the journalism bug as a Sophomore in college.  After completing her degree, Shai found herself employed as a staff writer/reporter for a non-government organization called Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).  In Shai’s own words:

At a very young age, I was given responsibilities greater than what I expected: I head projects and manage our websites and social media accounts. But of my one-year stay in the organization, the most fulfilling project I handled with my workmates is the Journalism Asia Forum 2010 where journalists from Southeast Asian nations went to the Philippines to talk about the culture of impunity and freedom of information and their repercussion in the media practice.

After working for CMFR, I also worked at one of the biggest networks in the Philippines, GMA Network Inc. I entered the network as a researcher for some of the major news programs like 24 Oras (24 Hours) and State of the Nation with Jessica Soho.

A year ago, Shai lstarted her Master’s in Journalism Fellowship at the Asian Center for Journalism of the Ateneo de Manila University.  While at GMA:

I covered science news events of the Department of Science and Technology, other government agencies and other companies. I also tried to put into news results of the new studies and innovations by Filipino scientists all over the globe, as well as international science news like the Higgs Boson discovery, Curiosity’s landing on Mars and the likes. One of my memorable stories includes the coverage of the monsoon rains in August 2012. I realized that science stories, especially disasters and weather events need context in reporting in the Philippines because reporters who are not really into science sometimes just echo what the official sources say, without necessarily giving proper context.

At the onset of 2013, a public affairs program in the same network hired me to replace their head researcher who is currently studying in Australia. Investigative Documentaries, a program airing once a week on television, exposes corruption and explains issues not really covered by the daily grind. My work as a head researcher lies on delegating tasks to researchers, editing and supervising their research briefs and editing and fact-checking scripts.

Recently, Shai was accepted into the World Federation of Science Journalists’ mentorship program, and is mentored by  Nicky Philips, a veteran Australia-based  science journalist.

The program, Science Journalism Cooperation – Asia, aims to help aspiring science journos to improve their skills and widen their horizon. By September 24, I’ll be heading to Vietnam for our first face-to-face meeting together with the rest of the participants.

My ultimate goal is to be a science reporter and to promote science journalism in the country as I believe that Filipinos need help from the media to increase their interest in science, technology and innovation.

Please welcome, Shai to Real Scientists!

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