The Sciences

Where Science Journalism Thrives

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorJan 10, 2011 7:49 PM

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Bryan Walsh at Time beat me to the punch. I'll get back to that in a sec. Originally my post was going to lead off with a comment from Orville Schell in the early 2000s, when he was dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, in Berkley and the downsizing of newsrooms was starting to make news. Schell had said:

Journalism schools have the challenge to be almost newsrooms in a way, to make their courses"”particularly graduate schools"”places that do journalism"¦

I remember reading that at the time and nodding my head in assent. Since then, many J-schools have gone this route to some degree. And science journalism, in particular, is benefiting. Which brings me to this climate change story in the Kansas City Star, which Walsh mentions here, as part of a larger multi-media project

from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism that explores: climate change and national security. Called "Global Warning" the website is the product of three months of investigations by student reporters at one of the best journalism schools in the U.S., with stories exploring the climate risks to energy infrastructure, the spread of disease in a warmer world, military clashes in a melting Arctic. Some of the pieces will also appear in the Washington Post and in McClatchy newspaper, but all of them will be found online on a website that includes sophisticated graphics, climate change timelines and even a global warming strategy game.

So J-schools have heeded Schell's clarion call. Another good example related to science journalism is NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP), run by Dan Fagin, a former science reporter for Newsday. I mention SHERP because it houses the excellent Scienceline site. One of its grad student articles was recently picked up by Scientific American. I'm not suggesting that J-schools should or can replace a diminished corp of professional science writers. But there's a valuable place for student work in the rapidly changing journalism ecosystem.

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