Julia Rosen draws from her own experience and from interviews with other scientists-turned-science-writers for a guide to making the move from academia to journalism. She also discusses her own motives for making the big switch: "Although I had excelled in science classes as an undergraduate, I was unprepared for the drudgery of lab work, and the funnel of ever-narrower research questions that felt ever more removed from the questions that motivated me at the outset."
The traditional path to a newsroom job starts with journalism school and, at most, a master's degree. But there's another way that starts with the lab and a science doctorate, writes Robert Irion, who directs the science communication program at the University of California-Santa Cruz: "My graduates agreed that it's not necessary to complete a PhD to be a successful science communicator. It's a competitive realm, however, and the degree can help open some job doors."
The National Association of Science Writers (NASW) is once again sponsoring travel fellowships for undergraduate students interested in science journalism, to attend the upcoming American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Chicago. As many as 10 students will receive $500 to $1,000 in travel expense reimbursement for attending AAAS, which will be held Feb. 13-17, 2014.
The National Association of Science Writers will again sponsor several exciting programs for student journalists during the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. All activities require students to be members of NASW by Feb. 1. Online registration for the AAAS Newsroom will open tomorrow at
http://meetings.aaas.org/press/ and continue until Jan. 22.
NASW student members looking for great internships, or news and science organizations looking for top interns should plan to attend the 2014 NASW Internship Fair. The fair will be held Saturday, Feb. 15, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago. Read on for important preparation details.
Next summer may still be a year away, but Poynter's Dan Caterinicchia says it's not too soon to start preparing for the hunt: "That preparation should include meticulously researching markets where you may want to intern and establishing portfolios with examples that show you’ll be ready to start producing professional-grade content from day one." Caterinicchia's guide includes helpful "do" and "don't" tips from editors at three intern-hiring journalism organizations.
As newspapers shrink and social media booms, Bora Zivkovic offers a primer for budding science writers on establishing themselves: "In the 20th century, one would try to ingratiate oneself with the gatekeepers, the editors. As they are still part of the ecosystem and probably will be for some time in the future, this strategy is still valuable, but it is only one of many. More important, if anything, is to build support networks with your colleagues, peers and buddies."
Poynter's Beth Winegarner lists a half-dozen ways for freelancers to build their businesses. Many of them boil down to finding a network and making the most of it: "Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, connecting with fellow freelancers has never been easier. Knowing who’s writing, and who they’re writing for, gives you a good sense of which publications are open to taking freelance work," Winegarner writes. Also, do your homework, and "pitch more than you can write."
The days when a beginning journalist was surrounded by a newsroom full of experienced colleagues may be gone now, Jillian Keenan writes on the Poynter site: "I fell in love with the freedom and flexibility of independent journalism, but there was one problem: without long-term editors to supervise my work, it seemed like I’d never find those inspiring mentors I had imagined." Keenan offers five tips for freelancers who want to fill the gap by finding their own mentors.
Two prominent educators and NASW members offer advice to students about science writing in this Quora post. Traditional journalism may be on the skids, but other options beckon, says Rob Irion of UC Santa Cruz: "The bottom line is that I remain sanguine about getting a job with the right training in hand. Become involved with NASW, seek mentors in the field, attend key meetings (NASW and AAAS, in particular), use social media, and seek solid training. You'll do fine."