To further complicate matters, there are some within the ranks of journalists who believe that writing for institutional publications - for example, a research organisation's external magazine - doesn't qualify as journalism because there is an underlying agenda; namely, to promote that organisation's research achievements.

I don't buy that one because show me any publication anywhere in the world for any market that doesn't have some kind of underlying agenda, even if it isn't overtly expressed or immediately obvious... 

I write for both 'mainstream' and research org publications, and I don't think there is a huge difference in how I approach those stories. I get a brief, I research it, I interview, I ask the same sort of questions and I write the same sort of story.

Perhaps the most significant difference is that writing for a research org publication, they're not necessarily looking to me to pick holes in the research or look for hidden angle and agendas. But then again, mainstream science and health coverage doesn't always/often do that either.

b


On 10 July 2013 20:37, Sarah Keenihan <sarahkeenihan@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi all,

Perhaps my choice of the term 'biased' was a little ill-advised...

I guess what i was hinting at is the point Adam has raised: generally, we write about an area of science or work for a client because we feel a connection/comfortable with it. Is that bias? Not always, especially when aware of it, but perhaps sometimes it does stray close.

With that in mind, I'd still love to hear thoughts on what *is* the best way to define:
  • Science journalism
  • Science communication
  • Science PR
I'm still grappling with it all, really. 

Cheers,
Sarah




On 10/07/2013, at 6:37 PM, Adam Barclay wrote:

Hello all.
 
I like to think that I do communication and not PR, but I do sometimes wonder if that’s just me practising PR on myself given the not-so-rosy reputation of PR (‘the dark side’ etc) relative to good ol’ unbiased communication. I hope that if I found myself working for an organisation whose messages stuck in my craw, I’d leave. Either: a) I’ve never been in that position, or b) I’ve convinced myself that I agree with the messages. I think it’s the former, but self-perception is notoriously unreliable to say the least.
 
Cheers,
Adam
 
From: Jenni Metcalfe [mailto:jenni@econnect.com.au] 
Sent: Wednesday, 10 July 2013 6:17 PM
To: Joanne Finlay; Sarah Keenihan
Cc: asc-list@lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] further to recent list conversations
 
Well said Joanne! My thoughts exactly.
 
I would certainly hope none of my writing as a journalist or communicator – depending on what hat I am wearing and I do wear both – is biased in any particular way.
 
I’m not about spinning anything, which is why I like to think I do journalism or communication and not PR.
 
Hmm bet there’s some thoughts on that!
 
Jenni
 
Jenni Metcalfe
Director, Econnect Communication
phone: 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866
skype: jenni.metcalfe
twitter: @JenniMet
PO Box 734 South Brisbane Q 4101
subscribe to Econnect's free monthly e-newsletter: http://www.econnect.com.au/news_newsletter.htm
 
 
From: asc-list-bounces@lists.asc.asn.au [mailto:asc-list-bounces@lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Joanne Finlay
Sent: Tuesday, 9 July 2013 9:48 PM
To: Sarah Keenihan
Cc: asc-list@lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] further to recent list conversations
 
Hi Sarah
 
I think the questions you raise are really important. 
 
I am curious though about your presumption that writing as a communicator for a science institutions requires taking a 'somewhat biased' position.

 

Can one person effectively swap from writing as a journalist (for example, for a newspaper) to writing as a communicator (for example, for a science institution)?
                        i.e. is switching from relatively unbiased to somewhat biased writing a comfortable transition?
 
I have always taken the view that science communicators can and should honestly and accurately report the science, no matter who we work for. The hard part is in ensuring the institution or spokesperson you are writing for doesn't claim more credit for the science than is their due. In my view it is possible to do this, and although difficult not impossible to keep all parties happy. That's where being ethical as a science communicator comes in.
 
All sounds like good ASC conference fodder.
 
Cheers
 
Jo Finlay
Journalist, writer and science communicator
 
On 08/07/2013, at 4:03 PM, Sarah Keenihan wrote:

 

Dear fellow members of the Australian Science Communicators,

Like Lynn and Bianca, I too am very interested in considering perpectives on science journalism and science communication, and how the two interrelate.

It interests me on a personal level because I’m trying to work out where I fit along the science writing continuum. However of course there are also bigger implications. Implications for:

            • How we (the people who talk about science) define our goals;
            • How we, governments and consumers make decisions about who pays for communication and journalism content;
            • How the public interprets material with a scientific flavour; and
            • Whether this material has the desired or indeed any impact.
 

I’ve written a few blog posts in recent weeks trying to get my brain around aspects of this. (If you’re interested, it started with Journalism is dead?, then progressed to Journalism versus communication and finally resulted in this duo: Profile of a science journalist and Profile of a science communicator. Of course my descriptions are not perfect – please add comments if you feel so inspired).

Whilst I’ve found the process of writing these posts helpful in clarifying my own thoughts, of course now I have more questions.

What I’m really interested in is the intersection of the two specialities, communication and journalism. Here are some issues which plague me:

            • In writing and reading job definitions or descriptions, how can one distinguish between a ‘science journalist’ and a ‘science communicator’?
            • Can one person effectively swap from writing as a journalist (for example, for a newspaper) to writing as a communicator (for example, for a science institution)?
                        i.e. is switching from relatively unbiased to somewhat biased writing a comfortable transition?
            • Is it important that science writers themselves have an awareness of the difference between science journalism and science communication?
            • How can readers of science writing tell the difference between science journalism and science communication?
 
Related questions are being raised in other arenas as well: see this piece by Matthew Ingram entitled Thanks to the web, journalism is now something you do – not something you are which explores the relationships between advocacy/activism and journalism.

Getting back to the ASC, are these questions important for us to consider as a community of people who talk about science in public spaces? I think yes, and I’m hoping this may come up as a potential topic for the ASC conference in February 2014. In addition to hearing from communicators and journalists who are ASC members, it’d be great to invite ‘outsiders’ along to get their perspectives as well.

I’m looking forward to the conference.

Regards,

Sarah

Sarah Keenihan
PhD | BMedSci | GradDipSciComm

Reading, writing and interpreting science. And other stuff. 

0419 976 834 | @sciencesarah | http://sciencesarah.wordpress.com/
 
Special Project: Science For Life.365
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
On 05/07/2013, at 7:40 AM, Bianca Nogrady wrote:

 

Thanks for posting this Lynne - it's an interesting read.
 
At the risk of opening a can of worms, I'm intrigued by the fact that a number of science journalists take the stand that they are not a 'cheer squad' for science, as Pallab Ghosh is described as saying in this article.
 
I understand very well that the job of a good science journalist is to ask the hard questions, to look critically at the data, to ask where the money come from and not to assume that science is truth.
 
But this assertion that one is not a cheerleader for science feels almost like a statement of emnity, like we have to take a stand against the hordes of pom-pom waving fanatics.
 
Isn't it possible to be both? I'm proud to proclaim that I'm an unrepentant science nerd. I love science and the process of scientific discovery and the knowledge that comes from that, and I'm always raving to friends about some amazing new bit of info I've discovered.
 
I'm very happy to stand up and trumpet 'Hooray for Science!' but I don't think this makes me any less of an effective journalist.
 
I'd be really interested to know people's thoughts on this.
 
Bianca

 

On 5 July 2013 07:26, Griffiths, Lynne <Lynne.Griffiths@nwc.gov.au> wrote:
Hi ASC

SciDev.Net has launched a new-look website - http://www.scidev.net/global/.  Their latest editorial features a discussion on science journalism and communication in the global context -http://www.scidev.net/global/communication/editorial-blog/science-journalism-and-communication-make-a-good-match.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=SciDev.Net&utm_campaign=2679242_Launch+email+EN&utm_content=KazEditorial&dm_i=1SCG,1LFBE,AZRIZP,5IAH7,1


There are related articles that may be of interest - http://www.scidev.net/global/communication/

Cheers

Lynne Griffiths
Director, Communication and Parliamentary Liaison
National Water Commission 
T 02 6102 6023   M 0412 786 945
lynne.griffiths@nwc.gov.au
nwc.gov.au


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The End: The Human Experience of Death (Random House Australia, May 2013)
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