Blurred lines defining Canadian science ‘journalists’

In Vice, Kate Lunau writes about ‘Science Journalism’s Identity Crisis‘, in a piece that covers the fact that the Canadian Science Writers’ Association and the National Association of Science Writers are considering constitutional changes that would allow people working in science PR to head these groups.

“They could be a freelance journalist who dabbles in communications work, as I briefly considered doing, and as a growing number of my colleagues do, too,” she writes.

“Of the CSWA’s 603 members, 265 currently identify as a “science journalist,” whereas 388 are “science communicators,” and 209 are in “research.” (People can choose to identify as more than one thing.) Just 159 of us, which actually seems high to me, say they strictly do science journalism.

This appears to mean that 106 (40%) out of the 265 CSWA members who self-identify as ‘science journalists’ are not exclusively engaged in independent science journalism. That echoes similar outcomes of a global survey reported elsewhere on this site.

“The classic journalist model is falling apart,” said Lougheed, a longtime freelance science writer [and incoming CSWA President]. “Journalists are trying to hold their heads up high, [but] the wheels have fallen off the bus.”

The hope is that a new constitution will strengthen protections against conflict of interest, and emphasize the role of science communication “in the public interest,” Lougheed said.”

Link: Kate’s full article.

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