Science Journalism: Victims of Digital Publishing?

It isn’t just newspapers and mass circulation magazines that are being impacted by the rise of e-publishing and the Internet. Science journalism is also taking a hit as traditional print media advertising revenues dry up. Those who write the journal articles may not see it hit their pocketbooks since they are primarily funded by their research. But for the publicists of science, those writers who describe scientific advancements to the rest of us, science journalists, the future is starting to look less than bright.

There is lots of science being reported today all over the Internet. This blog is a good case example. But what is disappearing is the dedicated writer who does in-depth journalism pieces about new science discoveries. I subscribe to a number of science magazines which I read diligently. So maybe I haven’t noticed that more and more of the contributions are coming from non-staff writers, freelancers who are doing their own independent investigation and telling us about what they discover.

Magazines that publish scientific findings that are less than journals, but still provide a degree of rigor in what they communicate, are the most likely victims of the e-print and e-zine revolution. Is this happening globally? At first the decline seemed to be only in the Developed World but science journalism in developing countries is also under pressure.

Science communication plays a critical role in developing public awareness. The public discussion of global warming and climate change has largely been fueled by science journalists who have interpreted the findings from rigorous journal articles. These journalists have told the world about mapping the human genome, about the application of technologies like 3D printing to bioscience, about the nano revolution, and much more. They are not so much the “cheerleaders” for science and technological advancement, as much as they are the explainers and the questioners. Their writing role is invaluable and the medium in which they publish serves a public good even to the point of influencing policymakers and governments.

You who read this blog are already invested in learning about science and technology. I invite you to spread the word so that more on this planet become technology and science literate. This literacy will inspire the next generation of scientists, technologists and those like me who write about their discoveries and inventions.



Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...