On Undark, Rick Borchelt, director of communications and public affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, weighs in on the discussion within the US National Association of Science Writers (NASW) on an amendment of bylaws that would allow non-journalist members to serve as ‘officers’ of the association.
His plea touches on questions related to lines between journalism and pr.
“Only bona fide [original emphasis] journalists may serve as officers [..],” he writes, describing the NASW rules as they stand
The words ‘bona fide’ are not part of the actual NASW bylaws, and regrettably Rick does not explain what he means by them. Who are bona fide journalists, and which journalists should not be regarded as bona fide?
Some other quotes:
“[..] I believe it is well overdue to resolve an issue that NASW leadership has ignored in hopes of preserving a fragile détente between our journalists and our members who write (or also write) for non-journalism outlets, rather than addressing this ever more anachronistic remnant of separate-but-equal governance.”
“The community today recognizes that we all have a shared stake in creating and promoting excellent science writing, and that to survive in this changed world, many science writers —including many excellent former journalists— need to avail themselves of support not just from journalism but from a variety of sources of income.”
“For some members and officers, opposition to the amendment reflects a more general concern that journalism is under threat financially and philosophically in America today. They want to view NASW as a bulwark against this tide—and NASW can be. [..] [But] in my opinion, issues about the larger field of journalism are properly addressed by groups of professional journalists.”
Rick clearly acknowledges there being important differences between science journalists and science communicators, and even dares to bring up the thought of ‘non-bona fide science journalists’. But he leaves drawing the lines to others.
Link: Rick’s full post.