Science Journalism must-reads of the day

An article in Christian Science Monitor, reporting from the AAAS meeting last month, quotes me in a couple of places: As Climate Change debate wages on, scientists turn to Hollywood for help – read the whole thing (it may not be obvious at first, but there are two pages there).
The must-read of the day is Ed Yong’s The value of ‘this is cool’ science stories:

But for now, as newspapers decline and shrink, the worry is that the internet will only cater for established interests. As Colin asks, “All of my interviews have pointed out that strong story and strong characters can get someone to read your science story, but what if they don’t open the section?”
Opening a section, of course, is an example of “pull marketing”, where users and consumers yank in the information that they actively demand. But the internet’s strengths will increasingly rely on “push marketing” where people foist material towards consumers. This isn’t just about traditional paid advertising. Social media ensures that we are all each others’ editors and advertisers. Through email, Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Buzz and more, we shove content into the attentional spotlights of our contacts.
And this is an area where “this-is-cool” stories really excel.

Eric Roston joins in the discussion with Thought Experiment: New Journalism Division of Labor:

It’s widely understood and celebrated that the categories “journalist” and “blogger” are insufficient to capture the richness and opportunity–really, the once-in-five-centuries revolution–that electronic media bring to civic discourse and investigation of people in power (including journalists and bloggers). After this year’s Science Online conference, I started wondering, though, how can we think about divisions of labor within a new media environment that so frequently has all the discernible sub-structures of a bowl of soup? For efficiency, I am condensing the words “journalist” and “blogger” into “jogger.”

Perhaps it is j-schools that are most resistant to change, mis-educating their charges? Dave Taylor had a telling experience: A class of CU journalism seniors, and only one was blogging?:

Ultimately, it was an interesting conversation, but it’s been a while since I felt like I was in the position of defending what I see as the natural evolution of media and journalism. As I feared, my impression of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication remains that it’s a dinosaur bellowing furiously at the impending climate change, it’s King Canute standing on the beach yelling “Ocean, be thou still! I bid thee come not nearer to my feet!” even as the waves implacably roll in.
The world of information dissemination is evolving before our eyes, going from four channels of television to hundreds to thousands, from one or two major newspapers per community to dozens, and from mainstream outlets to everything being an outlet. Journalism is surely just as much about speed of dissemination as it is digging up the muck (a relatively modern invention in the journalistic world, btw), so Twitter users breaking the news of the Chilean earthquake way before any news outlets do is a harbinger of the future, not a monster to be feared.

Brian Switek wrote two long and very useful posts for anyone considering writing a popular science book – worth reading and saving: So you want to write a pop-sci book, Part 1: From idea to agent and So you want to write a pop-sci book, Part 2: The value of blogs.
This is a little older, but I did not see it until today, still relevant: Journalistic malpractice on global warming :

Since I’ve advocated a more explicit use of the word “lie”, I’ll go ahead and follow my own advice: that Daily Mail headline is a lie.

Finally, I asked (and many people are trying to argue more than answer) What is Journalism?

13 responses to “Science Journalism must-reads of the day

  1. Hi Bora. Not all journalism schools are reacting the same way. The U of Maryland is trying to latch on to new media in their instruction, The University where I work at has a good digital media studies program, and the Estlow International Center for Journalism and News Media I am sure we are not unique.

  2. I find it really telling that of the people now decrying how badly the Daily Mail has reported Dr Jones’ statements, not even one was around when the very same Daily Mail fabricated a story on drowning polar bears.
    Journalists able to denounce “malpractice” only when it collides with their beliefs are not showing much in the way of professionalism. They are part of the story and their reporting therefore all the less interesting in a journalistic sense.

  3. A lot of people – scientists, science bloggers, rational people who understand that bad reporting of such stories makes scientists instead of journalists look bad and further muddles up for the lay audience the fact that GW is real and human-induced – criticized polar bear story. We knew that this is kind of irresponsible story denialists will gleefully latch on to paint science, instead of Daily Mail, in bad light. So we screamed. Loudly. But denialists selectively ignored that fact.

  4. Forgive me Coturnix…where was the “drowning polar bears” criticized, at the time?

  5. Sorry, I did not record and transcribe conversations I had with people at the time. How did I found out that the Daily Mail published the article? Online, with science bloggers (not denialists) being dismayed with it. I did not blog it – I never blog about climate change because a) I am not a climate scientist and b) I do not want to deal with hordes of nasty denialists in comments. And, it is not my job to spoonfeed you links. Just google it if this is something you care about.

  6. A shame indeed that all the nasty “denialists” have been given so much ammunition to work with.
    It’s very disappointing to see otherwise intelligent people completely suckered by manipulative researchers (I no longer accept that they are scientists) on both sides of the Atlantic.
    I fully support defending honest science and protecting those who practice it. Real science deserves respect and honour.
    What has been done to climate science in following a warped agenda will take many years to repair.
    Collusion with climate advocates has to stop. We need to establish the true position and progress from there.

  7. It is a shame that denialists pretend they care about science, but actually base their anger on personal emotional insecurities. Small penis?

  8. > Online, with science bloggers (not denialists)
    > being dismayed with it
    (For the record, I am talking about the Daily Mail article published Aug 31, 2008)
    Look Coturnix: there is no hordes of denialists here, and there is no anger. There is my claim that some people are nowadays discovering how awful reporting about climate change can be, but only because newspapers such as the Daily Mail are wildly exaggerating in the AGW-skeptical sense.
    It is my contention that (almost?) no one of them found it necessary to denounce “malpractice” when the wild exaggerations were in the AGW-belief direction.
    I have provided all the relevant links about my own denounciation of the Daily Mail at the time. Coincidentally, they pulled the article off their website a few hours after receiving my evidence-based request for clarification.
    Now you claim there were “dismayed science bloggers” at the time too. But I cannot find any evidence for that. I have just finished yet another Google search, to no avail.
    As far as I can see in Google, there is plenty of websites that took that story for true, and the only ones that didn’t fall for it were me and a couple of others (perhaps).
    It would be nice to know who exactly were those “dismayed science bloggers” you are talking about.
    It is exactly because Google is available to you as it is to me that you should please back up your claims with something tangible. Penises, manipulations and nastiness have nothing to do with any of the above.
    thanks in anticipation

  9. You did not get a hint above, did you, that I have no interest in debating denialists on MY blog. This blog is not about it. Go get your own where you can indulge your fantasies.

  10. Oh, the irony..
    I am not trying to debate climate science with you. All I am asking is for you to back up your claim that there were “dismayed science bloggers” about that Daily Mail article.
    That claim is either true, or it is not. You obviously cannot find any reference to back it up, otherwise it would have been all over the place already. Rather than admit it and move on, you’re trying to bring in an irrelevant point.
    You talk of anger, and personal insecurities as if they belonged to somebody else, yet cannot free yourself from writing in anger and being insecure. In the future, please do take care not to mention things you are unable to reference.

  11. Where did I ever state that bloggers did it on their blogs? We meet and have beer, you know, and discuss these things. I did say above – but you are bad at subtle hints – that I am sorry not to have provided transcripts of our discussions.

  12. I am sorry Coturnix but it is not a matter of “subtle hints“. You have written the following (my emphasis of course):
    How did I found out that the Daily Mail published the article? Online, with science bloggers (not denialists) being dismayed with it
    Let’s open up the question further. Where did any “science blogger”, dismayed or otherwise, dedicate any word online to that article?

  13. Ask them. Don’t ask me. As I said above, this blog is specifically NOT about climate change.