Reviving Science Journalism

In recent years, as newspapers have severely downsized and/or gone under, much of the concern has focused on investigative reporting. But the call to action has been taken up by numerous foundations and individual donors, who have helped launch well-funded and well-staffed new media outlets, such as Pro Publica.

There appears to be no such equivalent call to action for science journalism. As NYT science writer Natalie Angier said recently to Poynter about her profession:

It’s basically going out of existence.

To which Tom Yulsman dryly notes,

This isn’t exactly breaking news.

And which leads me to wonder again why science journalists aren’t rising to the challenge and making a case for their own Pro Publica’s. Let’s not sit around and bemoan what’s lost. The denuded newspaper landscape is going to become more barren and forlorn in years to come. Magazines like Discover and Scientific American can only plug so many holes, and in any case, they are a different beast than a newspaper, which traditionally has provided regular “beat” coverage of science.

So there’s this tremendous need for new outlets to spawn a new era of science journalism. Yet, I’m not aware of any pioneering new media initiatives that are filling the science journalism vacuum, much less a groundswell of concern for the profession.

In that same Poynter article, Mariette DiChristina, Scientific American’s editor-in-chief, says:

It behooves us in science journalism to make it clear to readers why science matters to them.

Absolutely, but if science journalism as a “beat” is withering because of continuing newspaper cutbacks, which is obviously the case, then it also behooves science journalists to convince funders and other institutions (such as universities) to help rescusitate it–on the web.

2 Responses to “Reviving Science Journalism”

  1. Steve Bloom says:

    Climate Central, e.g.

  2. oso loco says:

    Keith – not sure I have any good news for you here. 

    In general, the print media has spent too many years being too obviously biased.  As a result many, if not most, of those who should be their audience have decided it’s not worth their money to subscribe (and pay for) opinion that’s only thinly disguised as news. 

    The web has now become a major news source for many of us. This, of course, leads to a situation where one finds those websites that agree with ones views, biases, etc.  Which in turn leads to further political polarization.  Not good.  But better than being fed a constant stream of garbage by those who are supposed to “reporting the news.” 

    Case in point – Climategate – or as some call it, CRUdgate – or other less savory names.  VERY little coverage in the MSM – and what there has been is so obviously slanted as to be utterly useless.  Let me tell you that the average bear out here is wondering “WHY is it being swept under the rug?”  It’s not because there’s no truth to it.  It’s not because there’s no substance to it.  After all, the emails and other documents point the way  to the possible trial and conviction of major players in the climate change community for fraud, evasion of FOIA requests, financial malfeasance and a range of other charges.  And they open the door on what many of us have know for years – that the science itself is fraudulent because the very basis of ALL the CC claims is the temperature record that has been cherrypicked, massaged, tortured, diddled, cooked – whatever you want to call it. 

    The lack of MSM response to Climategate will likely nail the lid on the coffin because too many people know about it, know more about it than the MSM and know where to find the information (the web, but NOT the MSM). 

    LOLl – worse yet, the coverup even extends to parts of the web.  Google is a particularly egregious example.   If you Google “climategate” today (as I just did) it will display 13,100,000 records.  But on Nov 23 (4 days after climategate broke) there were over 30 Million – and 2 days later there were over 50 Mil. 

    There’s more – much more.  But the bottom line is that the print media has slit their own wrists by failing to fulfill the one function that made them worth having in the first place – that of  “reporting the news” – without representing their own opinions and biases as news. 

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