Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shedding light on a new paradigm of science writing

Or, how to avoid stupid mistakes and actually be a good science journalist

So today I officially got clearance to start an independent study project for my Masters of Journalism program. As I unfortunately found out after I came to Western, the Science Journalism course is only one of the possible electives. And, it turned out to be a no-go for this year. 

But all hope is not lost! I'll be diving into the literature, and conducting interviews journalistic research with science writers who I think are super-cool to try to figure out the best field in the world. 

The project will, hopefully, yield rewards not just for me, but for everyone who is/wants to be a science journalist. Hopefully.

The theories on how people learn science from the media are pretty fleshed out, and that's what I want from the academic-types. But the question it brings up is, does it really work? Sure it's how people learn from media, but they still have to read/listen/watch the thing first.

So that's where I turn to the science journalists. What works? What leads? What did you do to finely craft your best story? If I want people to learn about something, first I have to make them care. Because if they don't care, they won't stick around.

Or maybe I've got it all wrong, maybe my job isn't to try to teach. Maybe my job is to find the "awe" and inspire interest, as the New York Times found out. At any rate, I'll be using this blog to track the progress of my project, and share my findings.

So, to the people on this list (and maybe some who aren't), consider yourself warned, I'm coming for you:

David Dobbs
Carl Zimmer
Thomas Levenson
Andrew Revkin
Jay Ingram
Candis Callison
Nicola Jones

Oh, and wearing a lab coat to the interview might make researchers feel more comfortable, but maybe I should avoid wearing this one.

Illustration by David Parkins, Nature via scienceblogs.com/bioephemera

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