From september until December, I will give a training course Science journalism and communication at the Radboud University. In the six workshops, I will show how crucial a key message is to organizing a story.
Tag Archives: science communication
In our training courses, participants often want to know how to start a blogsite. According to me, the best way to start is getting inspired by a great idea, or rather, by a strong drive to change a certain abuse.
One of the best examples of a research blogsite I have seen is the site/movie/blog/tweetaccount Theygotodie from epidemiologist Jonathan Smith, lecturer at the Yale School of Public Health (US). Smith investigates the epidemiology of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) among mine workers in South Africa. These diseases are preventable, but many miners still die from them.
What is the mission of a science journalist? Entertainment? Education? Guarding democracy? That depends on your client, according to science journalist Martin Angler, author of Science journalism, an introduction (2017). If you work for a glossy magazine or free online news medium, you will probably see yourself mainly as an entertainer or educator. Employed by a critical national newspaper, you will probably see yourself mainly as a watchdog.
Because I am a writer and not a speaker, I like to watch TED-talks. Science communicators need to watch and analyze as many good (TED) talks as possible to become a better speaker, and to get our message across. So what have excellent TED speakers in common? I come to three characteristics.
In my courses, I like to show good examples of science communication, because examples (best cases) can be very inspiring. Excellent work is being done by the group Your wild life a group of scientists, science communicators, students and citizens based at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Why?
7-12-2013. Are you struggling to create and maintain a website for a research program? View the Water, Land and Ecosystems CGIAR research program for a while. In my eyes, an inspiring site that excellently serves readers, the blogsite is particularly interesting.
In my role as a science writer, I follow research news in controversial fields including ‘land grabbing’ in developing countries. The greater the contribution from research to a topical issue, the better. Yesterday, while surfing on that CGIAR-site, I found an interesting blog about the amount of agricultural land (in hectares) that has been ‘grabbed’ in developing countries. A couple of years ago, Oxfam claimed that an area almost the size of Western Europe had been taken over by foreign investors. But then a recently published report claimed that most of these big ‘land grabs’ never got beyond the planning stage. So what is the truth? Accordingly, journalist Fred Pearce (author of ‘Land grabbers’) started researching different sources and figures (including figures from CGIAR). The result is a convincing blog/story that NGO”s such as Oxfam are probably right, but that they used the wrong figures to support their claim. Well, such analysis – with links to different figures and sources – really help a discussion further.
The homepage contains ‘news articles’, ‘Upcoming events’, ‘About’and ’Twitter’ (5000 followers). But three years after the start of this CGIAR research program, the blogsite is the most interesting and relevant part. It meets the program’s goal of providing a ‘platform for discussion and networking on ecosystems services and resource management’.
‘Critical opinions can be expressed here’, to quote the site, ‘but discussions must be forward-looking and solution-oriented.’ In this way, (blog)sites are fulfilling the traditional role of a professional journal, but with a broader based, more diverse audience. Journals calling themselves independent have a comparable goal of being a platform. And when research programs start inviting or recruiting good journalists such as Fred Pearce to actively participate, the difference between the professional journals and quality blogsites are negligible.
According to the blog of the CGIAR (one of the stakeholders): ’87 blog posts and over 2800 tweets were published at the end of day 2, reaching almost 800,000 people’.