Science journalism in simple terms, can be defined as science writing. The most common form of science journalism is weather reporting. Weather reporting is usually visual on news hours or short summarized data that can be accessed through apps on phones.
That is not boring, is it? Then what is the boring part?
When the size of data being reported is too large or when the analytics involves a lot of back ground research, summarizing the research is tough. The difficult part of science journalism is continuing to engage the audience. Science writing has to deal with the heavy usage of jargon-the jargon of technical terms. The trade off between ethical reporting while conveying the details to non-scientific folks and at the same time, doing it in a lucid language is is what makes it tricky. The big elephant in the room is to make science easily readable, understandable and appealing to audience of all genre. When facts are too many to dissect is when it gets boring to the audience. As rightly put by Quentin Cooper.
Science values detail, precision, the impersonal, the technical, the lasting, facts, numbers and being right. Journalism values brevity, approximation, the personal, the colloquial, the immediate, stories, words and being right now. There are going to be tensions. — Quentin Cooper, of BBC Radio 4’s Material World
It is no surprise that often a scientific journal paper is less interesting than any literature. All the more why students in school do not find it engaging to read their Physics books. Unless absolutely necessary you will not find a person digging through science articles or books if it is not in direct need from their professional activity. Too many facts at one go is hard to process. Relevant research that ought to be read by many, hence only remains within the walls of labs and universities. The general perception of science is that it is difficult to understand. This is very discouraging and it keeps people away from technical knowledge. Surprisingly many science journalists do not have a scientific back ground. They learn as they go. If we look at the pre-millennial era, in absence of social media, science journalism was restricted to strict reporting of facts and results with not much of visual or auditory aid.
However, social media is changing the trend. The success of TED can be attributed to its innovative way of engaging people. The plus point is the short informative talks. A talk of about 20 minutes or less can easily hold a person’s focus with visual and auditory engagement, instead of just reading an article which can be boring. Another group which has made its mark is ASAP science, once again their USP is the amazing animated videos with voice overs. Easily accessible on youtube, these videos can not only drive the nail straight to the wall, they revive your interest to find out more on the topic. They guarantee that science is not boring any more. This new form of science journalism has tremendous reach and it has managed to engage audience of all age groups. IFL science is worth a mention too!
The millennial’s science journalism is fun and it is really a good career to pursue. Hopefully we will have more science journalists in the coming decade.