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Science News in the Digital Age - #SciCommLSU Lecture 7

Science News in the Digital Age - #SciCommLSU Lecture 7

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Science News in the Digital Age - #SciCommLSU Lecture 7

  1. 1. Science News in Digital Age Lecture 7 – Paige Brown #SciCommLSU Paige Brown, Zeynep Altinay
  2. 2. http://www.nasa.gov/ http://www.nytimes.com/pages/science/
  3. 3. Rise of a science news “ecosystem” • Legacy media in print and online formats that cover science: Guardian, New York Times • Science blogging sites: Scienceblogs.com, Nature blogs, SciLogs.com, Scientific American blogs, Discover blogs, PLOS blogs, Wired.com blogs, Popular Science blogs, NatGeo blogs, etc. • Ideologically-driven advocacy blogs: Pharyngula, Climate Progress, Climate Depot • Meta-discussions about science journalism: MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Tracker, Colombia Journalism Review, etc. • Users who share science news via social media, who decide what is ‘worth’ sharing, what will go ‘viral’, etc.
  4. 4. Rise of a science news “ecosystem” “The new ecosystem will be richer, more diverse and immeasurably more complex because of the number of content producers, the density of the interactions between them and their products, the speed with which actors in this space can communicate with one another and the pace of development made possible by ubiquitous networking.” http://climateshiftproject.org/2011/09/28/the-science-journalist-online-shifting-roles-and-emerging-practices/
  5. 5. “Science journalists in the US and UK face unique pressures adapting to the social and participatory nature of online news, to economic conditions that force them to fill a diversity of roles in the newsroom, and to the many hats they must wear if they are to survive as freelancers.” http://climateshiftproject.org/2011/09/28/the-science-journalist-online-shifting-roles-and-emerging-practices/
  6. 6. A New Typology of Roles for Science Journalists The conduit explains or translates scientific information in their reporting from experts to non-specialist publics. The public intellectual synthesizes a range of complex information about science and its social implications – in which the writer has a degree of specialization – presenting that information from a distinct, identifiable perspective. The agenda-setter identifies and calls attention to important areas of research, trends and issues, coverage of which is then picked up and reflected in other science news outlets. The watchdog holds scientists, scientific institutions, industry and policy-orientated organizations to scrutiny. The investigative reporter carries out in-depth journalistic investigations into scientific topics, especially where science meets public affairs. http://climateshiftproject.org/2011/09/28/the-science-journalist-online-shifting-roles-and-emerging-practices/
  7. 7. A New Typology of Roles for Science Journalists The civic educator informs non-specialist audiences about the methods, aims, limits and risks of scientific work. The curator gathers science-related news, opinion and commentary, presenting it in a structured format, with some evaluation, for audiences. The convener connects and brings together scientists and various non-specialist publics to discuss science-related issues in public, either online or physically. The advocate reports and writes driven by a specific worldview or on behalf of an issue or idea, such as sustainability or environmentalism. http://climateshiftproject.org/2011/09/28/the-science-journalist-online-shifting-roles-and-emerging-practices/
  8. 8. The environmental reporter today is often an agenda-setter / convener Conveners: Science reporters connect scientists with various publics to discuss science. Andrew Revkin, author of Dot Earth blog: “A big subset of posts that I do are along those lines. When I go places to speak, quite often I’ll be in the role of moderator or kind of convener … where I am on stage with four or five scientists or technologies or engineers or academics and challenging them in the same way as I do on the blog.” “what I do at Dot Earth is try to maintain an open forum where everyone can speak.” http://climateshiftproject.org/2011/09/28/the-science-journalist-online-shifting-roles-and-emerging-practices/
  9. 9. Exercise – 20 minutes 1.Pick a (environmental) blogger from Wired.com, Scientific American or SciLogs.com 2.Read 1-3 of their recent blog posts, depending on length 3.Decide what role they are filling: Conduit? Public Intellectual? Agenda-setter? Watchdog? Investigative reporter? Civic educator? Curator? Convener? Advocate? 4.Defend your answer to the class
  10. 10. A more critical eye “Science writers should open up the process of science in their reports … examining how a piece of research came to be undertaken and how it fits into the larger history and current debates about a field.” http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/skeptical_of_science.php
  11. 11. New trends in science journalism • The traditional historical role of the journalist as privileged disseminator of scientific information has been undercut by emergence a new science media. • Science journals, research institutions, and scientists themselves (via social media, for example) are producing content directly for non-specialist audiences Science news stories written by scientists Reworked science press releases http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/skeptical_of_science.php
  12. 12. New trends in science journalism • Multiplication of digital science news sites and science blogs as newspapers downsize/eliminate science sections • What does this mean? Potentially MORE science news and information online, but also more fragmented audiences. • Concerns over whether segmented/fragmented science news only reaches those who were already interested/engaged with science or a given scientific issue.
  13. 13. New trends in science journalism • “The traditional ‘scoop’ culture of journalism is being supplemented by other forms of journalistic authority: “knowing more, knowing better, knowing more comprehensively and knowing in as much depth or extent as readers would wish” (Donald Matheson). • “Science journalists need to provide expert interpretation of scientific knowledge, operating similarly to art critics as they evaluate — rather than just describe — scientific findings.” • Rise of a more opinion-based, interpretative type of reporting.  Science Blogs http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/skeptical_of_science.php
  14. 14. New trends in science journalism • The rise of the science freelancer, following economic changes in the news industry: journalism, teaching, running science events, writing books, etc. • Rising attention paid to the individual writer/journalist/blogger, as opposed to the outlet • Trends toward alternative / non-profit models of science journalism http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/skeptical_of_science.php
  15. 15. “A science journalist wears a lot of hats, the way I do… I write books, I do magazine articles, I teach - [this] is much more the 21st century version of a journalist.” – Deborah Blum
  16. 16. New trends in science journalism Use of multimedia to communicate and explain complex concepts • Interactive graphics of sea level rise • Science videos / podcasts • Interactive charts, graphs, etc. • Compelling visuals • Video is a growing component of science communication
  17. 17. • “Science reporting has tended to conform to a transmission communication model in which information was relayed faithfully ‘from privileged sources to diverse publics.’” • Digital age of science reporting characterized by: • Self-publishing online via blogs, social media, etc. • Scientists increasingly communicating directly with public • Drastic expansion of science-related information online (and more people going online to get their science news) • Broader access to science, even science journal papers • More science communication from societies, scientific publishers, science centers and museums, interest groups • Sometimes minimally edited / vetted stories - more information also means more bad information. Http://climateshiftproject.org/2011/09/28/the-science-journalist-online-shifting-roles-and-emerging-practices/
  18. 18. New Possibilities • Today, science-interested users can “deep dive” into news about climate change, evolution, stem cells, etc. online • “These ‘science publics’ consume, contribute, recommend, share, and comment on news and discussion of their preferred topics across media and platforms. They expect high standards and quality for content, and they expect that content be interactive and responsive to their feedback, reposting, forwarding, or commenting.” • BUT also risk of ‘echo chamber’ consumption of science news that aligns with one’s predispositions Http://climateshiftproject.org/2011/09/28/the-science-journalist-online-shifting-roles-and-emerging-practices/
  19. 19. Digital age science news challenges • How do you reach non-science-interested audience with high quality science or environmental news? • How do you ensure high quality information in a science news ecosystem where stories (on blogs, social media) are often “published first, checked later”? • How do you avoid playing into ‘echo chambers’ of like-minded individuals? • How do you truly engage users in science / environmental issues? • How do you find the resources to do deep-dive investigative journalism? • How do you avoid false balance? Find appropriate experts? Correct misinformation?
  20. 20. Exercise – 30 minutes If you were going to devise an environmental science news website for the digital age, what would it look like? What kind of information would it have? What roles would the content producers play? How would you make it different from current environmental science news outlets? Who would produce the content? How would you involve audiences? Pair up and ‘design’ your website. You can look online for ideas. Sketch the website and the main principles of content, style, approach, user-input, etc. Base the principles on what you’ve learned about environmental issues, environmental communication, storytelling and new media possibilities. Post to Moodle (blog if you wish).
  21. 21. If Time: Q&A about the future of science journalism. Questions?

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