Making it in the new media ecosystem, at ScienceOnline2012

There are many sessions (already noted in this series) that cover various aspects of science communication, but the sessions listed today are specifically about the way journalism is changing and how to adapt to this new world:

Going from blogging to MSM: selling out or gateway drug? (discussion) – Hannah Waters and Lucas Brouwers

The rise of science blogging has ushered in a new generation of writers who have more experience with blogging than with writing for traditional publications. And when said writers start writing for MSM, they face a distinct set of challenges — technical, managerial, and philosophical. This session intends to be part how–to, and part a wider discussion about transitioning from the blogger mindset to more traditional journalism. What do bloggers bring to the table, and how do you market those skills? What are some of the pitfalls they face? As you spend more time working on ‘official’ writing projects, what happens to the blog and how does the space change? How do you cope with having less control over the words and presentation of your writing? How do you deal with getting pushed out of your comfort zone of expertise? How do you reconcile the two approaches and leave work without feeling like you’ve sacrificed a part of your soul? We plan to feature testimony from editors dealing with writers fresh-from-the-wordpress to get a sense of the other side of the table. Neither of us have significant freelance experience, so we invite freelancers to add to the discussion.

Harassing the Powerful for Fun and Profit: An Informal Investigative Reporters’ Guide to Uncovering Secrets and Bypassing Flacks (discussion) – Charles Duhigg and Ivan Oransky

This workshop will explain how to use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and non-FOIA methods to find information that people don’t want you to know, and how to pick topics and targets most likely to yield important insights. It will examine how to identify the officials and other sources most likely to provide assistance, and then how to get them to talk. It will explore how to investigate scientists and research efforts, and how to make use of the data you’ve received from government agencies. It won’t really explain how to make much of a profit. But, if your idea of a good time is ruining an arrogant bureaucrat’s day, you’re in the right place.

How do we teach science journalism in the era of social media? (discussion) – Paul Raeburn and Misha Angrist

For those of us trying to train next-gen science writers and bloggers, what do we teach them? Tools and tricks–and let them figure out how to use them? Intellectual examination of the history and nature of journalism, and let the students learn the tricks and tools on the job? Law schools teach deep academic content, and let employers teach the grads how to be lawyers. Journalism schools have traditionally taught writing and reporting skills. Medical schools are in the middle–study of science, and instruction in skills. Where should science journalism pedagogy be, with the media landscape changing as quickly as it is? To what breaches do we once more unto? If we insist on teaching John McPhee, are we fighting the last war? Or is now the moment to stand fast in defense of timeless storytelling?

Do press officers/public information officers need journalists any more? (duscussion) – David Harris

With the plethora of tools available to press officers/public information officers for direct-to-audience communication, how much is the intermediary of the mainstream press required? What kinds of formats and players are taking the place of mainstream press? How are press officers/PIOs using these tools effectively to both communicate messages and engage in substantive dialog with their stakeholders and audiences? The session is intended to not only assess where we are now but to futurecast the direction of this kind of work.

I can haz context? (discussion) – Ed Yong and Maggie Koerth-Baker

There’s a lot of talk about the need for more context in science journalism, to depict science as a fluid process rather than fixating on the latest paper-of-the-day. Vigorous nodding ensues. But how do we actually achieve this, how does this work for different media (print, blogs etc), what types of context are actually useful, how do journalists balance time and depth, how can we use the tools of the internet to provide context, and how can context in science writing actually help science itself?

Data Journalism: Talking the talk (hands-on workshop) – Ruth Spencer and Lena Groeger

We want this workshop to be first and foremost USEFUL to people, without requiring many in depth tutorials or technical explanations. One of the main hurdles on the adventure that is data journalism, is knowing just enough to be able to have a conversation with someone who can make your data dreams into data realities (read: programmers and developers). We’re less interested in perfecting your program skills and much more keen to get you familiar with the tools and processes you need to get your big project off the ground. We’ll explore how to get started and launch into a whirlwind tour through the (free!) resources for journalists looking to work with data. This will be less of a workshop and more of a crash course: What you need to know before you even know what you need to know (about data journalism).

Charting Your Own Course: How to Make It As a Freelancer (discussion) – Brian Switek and Hillary Rosner

Freelancing can be tough. Generating ideas, pitching stories, balancing projects, planning ahead to make sure the money keeps coming… How do full-time freelancers do it? What does it take to start science-writing without a safety net, especially during a time when paid work is increasingly elusive? Whether you’re a veteran freelancer or thinking about taking the plunge, bring your questions, tips, and tricks.

Writing about science for women’s (and men’s) magazines and not being ashamed of it, dammit (discussion) Maryn McKenna and Elizabeth Devita-Raeburn

The major women’s magazines — SELF, Health, More and others — reach audiences of more than 1 million per month in their paper versions and several million more on the web. Yet there’s science-writing community debate over whether we should write for them, to bring science to the masses (and also because they pay pretty well), or whether they are so compromised by simplification and error that writing for them is a scarlet letter of shame.

And on Saturday at 3:45-4:45pm, just before the end of the conference – the Plenary Panel: Check, check, 1, 2 . . . The sticky wicket of the scientist-journalist relationship, moderated by David Kroll, with panelists: Maggie Koerth-Baker, Seth Mnookin and Bora Zivkovic.

Despite the reach of science blogs, science reporting from wide-circulation online or print publications continues to have the greatest impact on the public perception of science. The most essential but misunderstood component of science reporting is the relationship between the writer and the scientist source. While journalists and scientists may appear to have shared goals and expectations in story reporting, their distinctive motivations can lead to discord. This closing session will discuss three overlapping themes: 1) the perils of journalists growing too close with their sources, 2) the threat to objectivity in consulting scientist sources for fact-checking, and 3) for scientists, the drawbacks of engaging with the press on your science or that of others in your field. Each theme also carries significant advantages. How are the journalist and scientist best served while preserving the integrity of the science?

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Previous conferences
Nice things people said about ScienceOnline2010
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ScienceOnline2011 official recordings

Previously in this series:

What is: ScienceOnline2012 – and it’s coming soon!
ScienceOnline participants’ interviews
Some updates on #scio12, #NYCscitweetup, Story Collider and more.
Updates: ScienceOnline2012, Science blogging, Open Laboratory, and #NYCSciTweetup
ScienceOnline2012 – we have the Keynote Speaker!
Mathematics – Algebra and Statistics and more – at ScienceOnline2012
Information, data and technology at ScienceOnline2012
Health and Medicine at ScienceOnline2012
Education at ScienceOnline2012
Movies and Video at ScienceOnline2011
Sound and Music at ScienceOnline2012
Visual Communication at ScienceOnline2012
Submissions for the Cyberscreen Science Film Festival are now OPEN!
Scientists and the Media, at ScienceOnline2012
Writing, narrative and books at ScienceOnline2012
Outreach, activism and persuasion at ScienceOnline2012
Updates: #scio12, #soNYC, #NYCSciTweetup and more.

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