[ASC-list] What is science journalism - further discussion

Sarah Keenihan sarahkeenihan at gmail.com
Tue Jul 16 02:03:20 UTC 2013


Thanks Niall and everyone, it's been great to hear your inputs. 

Really would like to go to the science journalists conference one day.....




On 15/07/2013, at 9:33 AM, Susan Kirk wrote:

> 
> You nailed it Niall.
> 
> 
> 
> S
> 
> 
> 
> Susan Fairbairn (nee Kirk)   B.comm  freelance Journalist
> Member and Queensland Web Editor -  Australian Science Communicators (ASC)
> Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
> tel: +61 7 5478 6761 | mobile: 0423342867 | email: susan at susankirk.com.au
> www.susankirk.com.au |  Skype: susanakirk | Tweet: @SusanAKirk
> Facebook group: Plant Power
> 
> “If you don’t ask the right questions you won’t get the right answers.”
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> 
>> It's been an interesting discussion about what's journalism.
>> 
>> But it's tended to focus on what we think of our own writing.
>> 
>> So for me it's simple.
>> 
>> If you're being paid by the scientists or the government then it's not
>> journalism - it's science writing, science communication, PR etc.
>> 
>> It's not about your intent, it's about how the audience perceives your status.
>> 
>> You may write in a journalistic style, you may subscribe to journalistic
>> ethics, you may be a member of the union. But if you're funded by the subject
>> of your writing (in the broadest sense) then it's not journalism.
>> 
>> We discussed this at the science journalists conference in Helsinki. No one's
>> pure. We all move along the spectrum.
>> Here are a few rough notes I made in advance of the session.
>> 
>> It gets confusing. Some university information officers think they doing
>> journalism - they're not, even if they've trained as journalists.
>> 
>> Magazine editors are journalists, but when they're talking up their cover
>> story to sell magazines then that's PR.
>> 
>> Science film makers are journalists - until they're selling their film on the
>> talk show circuit.
>> 
>> Information officers talking to school children probably aren't doing pr. But
>> when they're talking to politicians then they are.
>> 
>> And when big pharma issue a media release it's usually pr, but not always,
>> sometime  it's public interest information.
>> 
>> I always try to write in a journalistic style, but I'm not a journalist,
>> except when I'm writing for Nature - then I think I am a journalist, or at
>> least doing a journalistic job.
>> Fundamentally it comes down to following the money - who is paying the bills.
>> And then to the quality and ethics of the practitioner.
>> If you're paid by the publisher and the subject has no editorial approval -
>> that is journalism. Your reader expects you to report without fear or favour.
>> If you're paid by CERN to write for the public about the Higgs boson then it
>> is science communication - the connection between your writing and future
>> funding of CERN is remote.
>> If you're paid by a university then it's science communication, PR or
>> marketing depending on the linkage with student recruitment.
>> I'd argue that the science is a little different to other rounds.
>> It's fundamentally different to say, politics or business reporting.
>> 
>> Good science reporting, good communication and good science PR are all built
>> on an evidence base and there are usually no commercial interests.
>> That's a sweeping generalisation. Science journalists still need to be
>> sceptical, medical journalists more so.
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> ________
>> 
>> Niall Byrne
>> 
>> Creative Director, Science in Public
>> 
>> Watching Spitfires today - beautiful engineering that, together with radar
>> saved Britain.
>> Bioinformatics tomorrow at EBI
>> 
>> I'm in Europe until 17 July for the World Conference of Science Journalists
>> and other events.
>> Contact me by email or skype or via the office, +61 3 9398-1416.
>> All mobile phone messages go to skype
>> 
>> niall at scienceinpublic.com.au<mailto:niall at scienceinpublic.com.au>
>> Twitter scienceinpublic
>> Skype niall_byrne
>> www.scienceinpublic.com.au<http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/>
>> 
>> From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au
>> [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Bianca Nogrady
>> Sent: Friday, 12 July 2013 4:04 PM
>> To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
>> Subject: Re: [ASC-list] further to recent list conversations
>> 
>> And while we're at it, here's an interesting article from the New York Times
>> about the difference between 'journalist' and 'activist', which I think has
>> relevance to this discussion:
>> 
>> http://nyti.ms/13SKZnN
>> 
>> This phrase struck a chord with me: "The notion of journalist as political and
>> ideological eunuch seems silly, even to some who call themselves journalists."
>> 
>> b
>> 
> 
>> 
> 
> 
> _______________________________________________
> ASC-list mailing list
> list at asc.asn.au
> http://www.asc.asn.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=97&Itemid=115

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://www.lists.sublimeip.com/pipermail/asc-list/attachments/20130716/b8d5be87/attachment.htm>


More information about the ASC-list mailing list