Fall 2002

Science Journalism

Those who report on science have never been better prepared to do so, according to Los Angeles Times science and technology writer Robert Lee Hotz, whose insights open our section on science journalism. But as Hotz also observes, the challenges these reporters confront have never been larger: Newsroom cutbacks mean the reporters “are stretched to cover increasingly complex science stories ….” And their task is made harder by the dearth of impartial sources, forcing them “to look as hard at the scientists as we look at the science itself.” – Melissa Ludtke, Editor

Science Journalism
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
The Difficulty of Finding Impartial Sources in Science
Reporters are better prepared, the public is eager for news, yet the science beat is getting tougher to do.
By Robert Lee Hotz
The Extraordinary Adventure That Is Science Writing
‘Once you’ve done it you can’t imagine doing anything else.’
By Jon Franklin
Reporting Science Means Looking for Cautionary Signals
‘Experienced science writers try to keep the sense of uncertainty in their copy.’
By Boyce Rensberger
What Every Journalist Should Know About Science and Science Journalism
By Boyce Rensberger
Books Every Science Writer Should Read
Investigating Science
Lots of time is required to cultivate sources and verify their claims.
By Deborah Blum
The Devolution of a Science Page (1 comment)
Suffering from editorial interference and lack of focus, ‘The page actually managed to make science boring.’
By Jim Dawson
Breaking News or Broken News
A brief history of the ‘first cloned human embryo’ story.
By Jon D. Miller
How Does the European Press Address Cloning?
The answer depends on the level of debate and who is saying what.
By Olivier Blond
Rethinking the Science Beat
Cultural assumptions matter, and journalists need this broader context as part of their reporting.
By Stefanie Friedhoff
New Complications in Reporting on Science
Scientists have important roles to play in getting the news right, but they are often reluctant participants.
By Cornelia Dean
Scientific Conversations
After interviewing political leaders, a journalist uncovers the real revolution by talking with scientists.
By Claudia Dreifus
Technology Enables New Scientific Images to Emerge
‘This new process in science communication will produce a different kind of journalistic thinking ….’
By Felice Frankel
Bringing Science to a Television Audience
Too often, spectacles—like mummies and volcanoes—triumph over the reporting of modern science.
By Jon Palfreman
Radio’s Relentless Pace Dictates Different Coverage
‘The doing of science is rich territory for radio, since it’s full of sound, if not fury.’
By Christopher Joyce
Teaching Journalism Students to Report on Science
They learn how to put science into its broader economic and social context.
By Douglas Starr
Meshing Science, Money and Politics in a Book About AIDS Vaccines
‘Narrative was an obvious tool for approaching such a story….’
By Patricia Thomas
The Science of Producing Food (1 comment)
As science’s role in the food chain increases, journalists need to ‘get it right.’
By Anne Fitzgerald
Reporting on Science in South America
International coverage is good, while local research often isn’t well covered.
By Marcelo Leite
Listening to Scientists and Journalists
By hearing what they say about themselves and each other, researchers try to find common ground to improve reporting.
By Rosslyn Reed and Gael Walker
Curator's Corner
Restoring and Renovating Walter Lippmann House
The Nieman Foundation is enlarging its home to meet the needs of its residents.
By Bob Giles
Journalist’s Trade
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Graphics and Journalism
In USA Today, some of its ‘Snapshots’ have not given the full picture.
By John Maxwell Hamilton, David D. Perlmutter, and Emily Arnette Vines
Examples of ‘About This Story’ Boxes
Environmental Consequences of Our Reliance on the Printed Word (1 comment)
Waste and pollution are the result of the paper that fuels the timber industry.
By Ralph Hancox
Words & Reflections
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
September 11: The Impact of Photography A Year Later (1 comment)
Photographers help ‘in the collective and somber effort of rebuilding.’
By Frank Van Riper
Zombies on Roller Coasters
American media transport too many people to nowhere.
By Ellen Hume
With Passion and Joy, Jim Bellows Enlivened Journalism
By Seth Effron
International Journalism: The Impact of Middle East Pictures and Words
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Photographic Images Can Be Misunderstood (2 comments)
‘I had hoped people would view this boy from Ain el Helweh as I had seen him, a tiny tragic figure.’
By Courtney Kealy
Arriving at Judgments in Selecting Photos
At The Oregonian, key questions help to frame decisions about images of Mideast violence.
By Randy L. Rasmussen
Portrait of a Death
By Randy Rasmussen
Expanding the Lens on Coverage of the Middle East
By judging a newspaper’s visual coverage over a long period of time, bias becomes less apparent.
By Dick Rogers
Images Lead to Varying Perceptions
‘In photographs in which we, as journalists, saw danger, some readers saw deception.’
By Debbie Kornmiller
Deciding on an Emotion-Laden Photograph For Page One
When an image reflects ‘a crucial moment in a course of events,’ editors make the decision to publish it.
By Michael Larkin
Covering the Intifada: A Hazardous Beat
Photographers and journalists come under gunfire while reporting on the conflict.
By Joel Campagna
The Daniel Pearl Video (1 comment)
A journalist explains why its horrific images should be treated as news.
By Dan Kennedy
The Minefield of Language in Middle East Coverage
Journalists rarely have the time or space to navigate through the war of words.
By Beverly Wall
Do Words and Pictures From the Middle East Matter?
A journalist from the region argues that U.S. policy is not affected by the way news is reported.
By Rami G. Khouri
Nieman Notes
Celebrating a Journalist’s Life
Richard Harwood’s family donates his books to the Kovach Library.
By Madeleine Blais
Nieman Curator James C. Thomson, Jr., 1931-2002
Remembrances