The demise of science journalism?

On the website of the Australian Science Communicators, the ‘peak body for science communicators and science journalists in Australia’, Bianca Nogrady reports on recent attempts in Australia to draw clear lines between science journalists and science communications.


“Are you a science journalist or a science communicator? For people outside the science communication sphere, this question might seem like an exercise in splitting hairs, but for those of us whose day-to-day lives are embedded in this arena, it’s actually quite important.”

“However it can be difficult to find clear, unassailable points of distinction that distinguish science journalists from science communicators. Is it who’s paying? Is it the determination of an underlying message? These seem like obvious answers but the often strong underlying agendas of publishing companies make things less clear-cut.”

“And so it was that [the Australian Science Communicators NSW branch] recently assembled a crack team of science journalists and science communicators to help find the answer.”

It turns out that the intersection between science journalism and science communication is complex and messy and –particularly in this new era of online media– more important to debate than ever.

“The reason is that science journalism –being defined as the kind of ‘objective’, critical reporting and analysis that our panel is most experienced in– is on the decline, at least in the mainstream media.”

“[A] rise in ‘native content’ – advertising content designed to match its publishing surroundings – does create some dilemmas both for publishers and journalists. [..] For journalists, particularly freelancers, it can lead to conflicts of interest if one is asked to write a critical news piece about a research organization that one also writes content for.

“The downside to [the] transition away from science journalism to science communication is that we are likely to see less of the critical, independent reporting and analysis that science – as with any other human endeavour – should be subject to.”

Link: Bianca’s full piece

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