Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Yesterday I did my first two interviews (via phone) for a news brief type of story. It was interesting. While I've interviewed plenty of people before, most of my news experience has been along the lines of "Campus cafeteria employee on laptop stealing spree!" or "Roaches are in your dorm!" I do remember writing a quasi-humor article on how to set up your own biology lab at home ("Go to your local butcher! Get an eyeball!" That kind of stuff.) and I recently did a fairly extensive piece on a scientist at Vandy for personal edification. However, I'd consider yesterday's work to be my first legitimate step into the field of science reporting.

I don't really use that many exclamation points when I write articles, by the way. Those were for dramatic effect.

Moving on. I'm understanding why it's hard for reporters to talk to scientists and vice versa. It's so easy for them to slip into talking about, for instance, fast-gated ion channels, without stopping to think, "Hey, this person doesn't know what I'm talking about." Perhaps my background hinders me in the sense that I permitted the interviewees to chatter on like that without stopping them. But regardless, I did get a few good jargon-less quotes. Also, the background knowledge helps overall, because it made the interview a lot faster because I did happen to know what he meant when he started about signaling cascades and whatnot. Also, I no longer shudder at phrases like "signaling cascades."

Well, maybe a little. It's a happy shudder, though.

After work I went to a social function (read: drinkin' time) for science writers in NY. (And you pronounce their acronym "sw-eye-nee". Yes, like "porcine.") While science writing isn't obscure (there's quite a few grad. programs and conferences for it) it's new for me to meet so many people who have are focused on this writing niche.

Also, I learned that identifiable and overlapping subsets of science writers include research community expatriates, indie rock fans, and borderline (or greater) hipsters.



Where's my field guide?


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