About this blog

This blog is dedicated to a discussion about the blurring of the lines that used to separate (independent) science journalism from science PR.

With budgets for independent science journalism shrinking, growing numbers of science journalists choose not so much to ‘jump the fence’ between journalism and PR but rather to work on both sides of that fence at the same time. Some worry that this will undermine public trust in science journalism and ultimately in science as well.

The background

Science journalism has suffered and is still suffering from newsroom downsizings and other major changes in the media industry. ‘Independent’ media are increasingly copy-pasting material from universities and others; growing numbers of freelance science journalists are also writing for research organizations, non-profit organizations, governments, private companies or research funding organizations. TV journalists moonlight as highly-paid moderators.

On the field of science reporting, players seem to be switching teams constantly without changing jerseys, leaving everyone guessing which team they are really on.

Can readers trust stories on climate change when the reporter also draws income from climate research institutions, or has been invited to travel across the world with all expenses paid? At what point does science journalism stop being independent? Shouldn’t journalists worry about their own conflicts of interest as much as they worry about those of other professions? At what point should people stop calling themselves ‘journalists?

This blog was created by Peter Vermij, who after working 20+ years as a (science) journalist jumped over the fence in 2006 and has since then worked exclusively as a freelance science communications adviser.

Peter kicked off the discussion in 2013 by co-organizing and moderating a lively debate at the 8th World Conference of Science Journalists in Helsinki.

Regarding this blog, you can best contact him by e-mail.

Please feel free to join the discussion!

Leave a Reply