This week, a lot of pontifications on science journalism, and the state thereof. In fact, much of this will be a rant, a rant broken up by links.
You’re going to need some coffee.
Much twitter-pontification this week was spawned by an article in Pacific Standard, pointing out that science journalism is flawed and fails to investigate scientists enough. The article noted that with regards to science journalists: “there’s probably no field of journalism that’s less skeptical, less critical, less given to investigative work, and less independent of its sources than science reporting.”
To which I say…citation needed, my friend. Have you looked at the beauty industry? The sports field? FITNESS?!
The article gets at a point well-known amongst science writers: Yes, we tend to cover the “wow beat”, cool new findings that make people go “wow.” It notes that many science journalists are somewhat in awe of scientists.
But it’s not the first to make those points. And it certainly didn’t do it, um, well. The examples (This American Life, the chocolate study), were not good supporters of the points (how on earth was This American Life supposed to pick up on the errors when no other scientist yet had? Bohannon declared his chocolate hoax a success even though not a single solid science writer or outlet fell for it!). It fails to note that much of this drive to cover the “wow” beat is because…that’s what editors want…because that’s what people READ.
So, I’ll stop my thoughts on the topic there. If you’d like to read some better stuff on this topic, may I recommend Ivan Oransky’s thoughts here and Brooke Borel’s article here, which make the point with far more nuance.
I conclude with thoughts from @Laelaps:
Want more investigative science reporting? Maybe ask how to better support writers and reverse the freefall of assignment rates.
Who’s going to pay for this kind of science journalism? Who’s going to protect writers as they pry into controversies? No one answers this.
For myself, the only way I can make a living is by distilling short pieces on new studies. Long form? Too long and too little for the effort
And investigative reports? Most contracts put the legal responsibilities on me, if I even see a contract.
This article is like someone shouting “Make it better!” over your shoulder without any thought to actually supporting your work.
Anyway. Onward. To links.
Sitting is bad. But there’s no evidence that standing is really better. I did stand up tho. Just out of guilt. ow.ly/ZCFEM
Live DC eagle cam with baby eagles!!! The parents are named Mr. President and First Lady, of course. 🙂 ow.ly/ZEZgr
As women take over in previously male-dominated fields…the pay DROPS.ow.ly/ZG89d
“Twitter is no longer a small, quirky, unprofitable startup, but a big, famous, unprofitable corporation.” ow.ly/ZLhhe
This week’s word? Yeast! A wonderful and curious beast. ow.ly/ZKCXf
Another diet, another program filled with “sciencey-science” that isn’t science at all.ow.ly/ZKMYo
Not all people with MD’s become doctors, esp if they don’t “match.” A program wants to change that.ow.ly/ZG8ps
You may having a fancy standing desk…but you’re not standing enough.ow.ly/ZNRzq *stands up guiltily*
By me: a teen who designed a filter to take phosphorus out of local streams.ow.ly/ZO2N7
A new study found a peanut parent! Or…great great great great great grandparent. ow.ly/ZO8Tp
And now…a moment of truth:
Sometimes my impostor syndrome gets so bad that I think people are lying when they say I make a good cup of coffee.
Yes. Really. This becomes especially ironic when you learn that I was barista for four years during college. So I mean…I’ve been professionally trained to make a cup of coffee. This is how imposter syndrome works.
An oxytocin lab is opening their file drawers and putting the unpublished studies in the light. ow.ly/ZO9SY
Runners are never satisfied. So true!ow.ly/ZOcF8
On naming the research vessel “Boaty McBoatface” ow.ly/ZQYho Makes me think of the funny names I had for research equipment.
I then tried to start a hashtag, called #machinegoesping, to capture the hilarious things that people name their research equipment. It didn’t really take off, but the responses are still great. Definitely check it out.
Also, if you haven’t heard the glory…the machine that goes ping.
Men have a shorter life expectancy. Why? Three main reasons. Bet you can guess. ow.ly/ZOH0X
YOU GUYS. STEM dresses. FOR ADULTS. I want. ow.ly/ZOVMK Some have POCKETS! And they also offer a caffeine scarf!!
And here is your sad news From @Laelaps:
I’m sorry to say that after three years, @NatGeoScience has decided to shutter Laelaps. Where to now? I honestly don’t know.
Another one in the annals of “cute mammals aren’t charming.” Serial-killing prairie dog moms. ow.ly/ZQzmT
“I am unwilling to relocate again (and it will probably cost me my academic “career”)” Important points. ow.ly/ZQErS
In defense of moderate drinking (if you already do it and are otherwise healthy).ow.ly/ZQX0e
This piece makes it abundantly clear why we should be grateful every day we have an anus. Potty mouths. Literally.ow.ly/ZTpm0
When the big storm hits, people hunker down, tape their windows…and tweet. New from me. ow.ly/ZUkUH
The bait and switch of headlines and science. Makes me wonder: What IS clickbait when it comes to headlines?http://ow.ly/ZTWYy