The Open Notebook
I was selected from a national applicant pool for an early career fellowship with The Open Notebook, a website that covers the art and craft of science journalism for an audience of science journalists. During an eight-month period in 2018, I pitched, reported and wrote behind-the-scenes stories about various health and science projects, ranging from the total solar eclipse of 2017 to how podcasts make science entertaining. I interviewed prominent science reporters and editors, like Carl Zimmer and Laura Helmuth, and learned what it takes to be great in this field.
Some consider science journalism more technical and knowledge-heavy than other beats. That’s why there are often space writers with degrees in astronomy or health reporters who used to be doctors. But does that mean those are the only people who can do the job well? Do you need a science degree to be a science reporter? We reopen the classic debate with five science reporters.
The challenge of making complex science topics clear and entertaining can be even greater for audio journalists, who can’t use visual aids or rely on the audience to reread a confusing section. Yet Science Friday, Science Vs, and Radiolab have all discovered unique ways to meet this challenge. Now they share some of the most important lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Many science reporters get their start in other beats, including crime, business, fashion, or politics. But science touches every aspect of life, so it’s no wonder many of them say the skills they developed in those beats have made them better-equipped—and sometimes uniquely positioned—to report on science.