In some circles, I'm simply a PIO, or public information officer, for a major university. But my job includes a healthy dose of science journalism. Every day I try to write about research and science in a way that's interesting and informative to an audience that may not have specialized science training. It's a fun and rewarding challenge.
Writing today in The Last Word on Nothing blog, science writer Erika Check Hayden points out a Kickstarter project called Matter that warmed my heart. The project was conceived by two reporters (Jim Giles and Bobbie Johnson) interested in supporting long-form science journalism. According to the project website:
MATTER will focus on doing one thing, and doing it exceptionally well. Every week, we will publish a single piece of top-tier long-form journalism about big issues in technology and science. That means no cheap reviews, no snarky opinion pieces, no top ten lists. Just one unmissable story.
The project's fund raising goal was $50,000. So far they've raised nearly $140,000. As Erika points out:
First, this is an astonishingly positive statement about the future of science journalism. I gave to the project because Jim is a friend and former coworker, and because I love good science journalism and want to support it. The fact that so many other people also apparently feel the same way says that there is a healthy demand for science journalism – a welcome statement in light of the beating that the journalism industry, and science journalism in particular, have taken in recent years.
Second, I’m thrilled to see someone injecting science journalism into the “future of journalism” conversations that have been thriving elsewhere for quite a while now. Experiments such as the Knight News Challenge have not had much of an impact on science journalism – they were largely meant to help backfill the huge void in local news coverage left by the decline of newspapers, and many of the folks leading the future-of-journalism conversations these days come from mainstream broadcast, magazine and newspaper outlets where science journalism was never a major part of the picture. We science journalists have eagerly embraced new technologies for conducting and disseminating our work. But until now, we haven’t led the conversation about new models for funding that work.
There's still a few hours left before the fund raising stops. I'm planning to show my support and keep the total climbing. How about you?
Previously: The influences of medical press releases on news coverage quality, Inaccuracies in science journalism are obnoxious at best, potentially dangerous at worst, and The need to reboot science journalism on the web.