A looming rift in science journalism?

On Undark, Aleszu Bajak paints a rather dark picture of the future of the US National Association of Science Writers. Under the headline ‘A Looming Rift in Science Journalism‘, Aleszu describes the debates of a proposed change to the NASW constitution, which would make non-journalists eligible for leadership roles.

Some money quotes:

PIOs and their supporters argue that the hard lines that used to define [the two] professions no longer pertain in the modern era, and that in any case, the number of NASW members who consider themselves journalists alone is vanishing. “You can’t define journalism and you can’t define journalist,” said Karl Bates, the director of research communications at Duke University and long-time NASW member.

“Joe Palca, a science reporter for National Public Radio, was president of NASW between 1999 and 2000, which coincided with another constitutional change — one that allowed PIOs to gain full membership in the organization in the first place. “It used to be that you were a full-fledged member if you were a science journalist and an associate member if you were a public information officer,” Palca explained. Back then, he said, “it was relatively easy to understand who was strictly a journalist and who wasn’t. But times have changed. I no longer consider it to be a professional organization of science journalists like it used to be.”

“The recent report comes amidst a larger debate that’s been roiling the scientific journalism community in recent years. At the heart of that debate is the charge that rigorous coverage of the sciences has devolved into a flabby affair in which reporters more readily minister to the interests of scientists and the institutions they represent than to the needs and interests of ordinary readers.”

Link: Aleszu’s full piece.

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