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State of the craft

Self-publish or else? Maybe, maybe not

From the Scholarly Kitchen, two well-established writers going in different directions. One, thriller novelist Barry Eisler, spurned a $500,000 advance in favor of self-publishing. The other, Amanda Hocking, who specializes in the young-adult paranormal genre, is signing with St. Martin's Press after self-publishing nine wildly successful books. Plus more on Hocking's move from the New Yorker and the New York Times.

Three new critiques of Japan coverage

© iStockphoto.com/Sherwin McGehee

Sixteen days later, the reviews are everywhere. First, a New York Times profile of a Columbia scientist sorting facts from fiction in the radiation realm. Then, from CJR's The Observatory, details about a web site that crowd-sources poor Japan coverage. Finally, in Wired.com, how a popular science writer drew criticism from scientists with his earthquake prediction.

Careening coverage of new energy technologies

© iStockphoto.com/Fernando Alonso Herrero

Covering renewable energy is a challenge that many reporters are failing. That's from a recent seminar at Harvard’s Kennedy School, discussed in CJR's The Observatory. The three stages of renewable energy coverage: 1. "This technology is going to save America." 2. "The technology is a fraud." 3. "The technology ... isn’t going to save the planet, but there is a place for it."

Telling good from bad in science/health writing

Seven rules for distinguishing between solid information and garbage, from Smithsonian.com's Surprising science blog. Examples: "Is the story almost too good to be true?" "Is the source of information a TV or movie star?" Plus, how Wikipedia (Wikipedia?) can help. Add your own tips in the comments.

Another brick falls from the embargo wall

The American Astronomical Society bows to technological reality and revises its embargo policy in light of the increasing online availability of abstracts and papers. "We cannot sensibly say that a finding is embargoed when the abstract or paper is already publicly available," the updated policy reads in part. Details from Ivan Oransky's Embargo Watch.