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Highlights from ScienceOnline2010 – Rebooting Science Journalism

January 20, 2010

2. Rebooting Science Journalism in the Age of the Web (description here):
Sciblings Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science and David Dobbs of Neuron Culture as well as the author of Reef Madness and the forthcoming The Orchid and the Dandelion, joined science writer extraordinaire (and duck sex enthusiast) Carl Zimmer and cell biologist/blogger John Timmer for an excellent discussion of what science journalism means in the age of the internet.


The take home message was that science journalism is in a state of flux. What had previously been traditional journalism in which the reporter interviews the respective scientists and feeds these stories to their editors has changed fundamentally. Not only are scientists entering the field and reporting themselves on their discoveries, but self-taught science writers are entering the fray and using their research skills to put traditional journalists to shame. As John Timmer stated, “If you start calling yourself a journalist, they’ll treat you like one.” Naturally, you have to bring the goods. This means studying the periodical or website that you’ll be writing for and tailoring your style to their needs. But ultimately it’s about accuracy in reporting on the scientific findings and doing so in an engaging way.
Blogs have also become a vital tool for communicating science. Carl Zimmer discussed an example where he reported on a study concerning the evolution of duck genitalia for The New York Times. A little later the researchers produced a video that detailed unambiguously how evolution had created an arms race in male/female sexual strategy. The newspaper of record ended up being wary of posting the video, but, then . . . well, I’ll let Carl explain it himself:

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ollitapio P. permalink
    January 20, 2010 4:36 pm

    This is guite funny. Jared Diamond has published Why sex is funny?

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