The Sciences

Am I a Science Journalist?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJun 23, 2011 7:10 PM


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It's quite the question these days, for all of us. And it's the subject of a panel I have organized for the World Conference of Science Journalists in Doha, which begins in just a few days now:

Am I a Science Journalist? In the evolving world of science communication, how do we define a science journalist? This panel will discuss whether the venerable word "journalist" can or should be applied to some, all, or none of the new generation of science bloggers and educators who are remaking the field. Producer/moderator Chris Mooney, Discover; Point of Inquiry (USA) Panelists Ed Yong, Not Exactly Rocket Science (UK) Moheb Costandi, Neurophilosophy (UK) Homayoun Kheyri, freelance; BBC World Service (Australia/Iran) Cristine Russell, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing; Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (USA)

The panelists have to figure out the "answer" to the question more than I do, but it is certainly a conundrum, when almost nobody has a staff job at a publication any longer. Do all science bloggers count as science journalists? The thought gives me pause--I don't think all of them practice the norms of journalism, though some clearly do. I know and practice the norms, meanwhile, but many things that I do professionally--like science communication work and training--clearly aren't journalism. Everybody is piecing it together in different ways. Maybe the problem is that the concept of "journalism" partly bears the stamp of an era that's behind us.

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