‘Sense of Crisis’ in U.S. Science Journalism … But Cris Russell Sees Some Hope Overseas

American news audiences may be off-shoring their science journalism. That’s the sense one gets from a column – “Science Journalism Goes Global” published in Science magazine by Harvard Belfer Center’s Cristine Russell, herself a long-time science journalist (free online registration required to access the article).

Russell, at one time a leading science reporter for The Washington Post and, before that, with the now-gone Washington Star, points to “a sense of crisis” in American science journalism “at a time when global science-based stories … are more prevalent than ever.” She points to newsroom budget and staffing cuts and content shifting toward “science-lite” as afflictions facing U.S., Canadian, United Kingdom, and European science journalism.

By contrast, Russell, a former president of the National Association of Science Writers, NASW, points to “growing excitement” and expansion and opportunities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. They for sure struggle with political obstacles and limited resources, but they nonetheless “are eager to join the ranks of international science writers,” according to Russell.

Russell’s prescription: Journalism and science organizations need to explore “better ways to train reporters, scientists, and other communicators around the world in the substance and process of science writing.” And all the time keep “the old-fashioned virtues of good journalism at the forefront – “accurate information, multiple sources, context over controversy, and editorial independence.”

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