On science blogs: Tabitha Powledge moves

MOVING ON TO PLoS! On Science Blogs has been invited to join the Public Library of Science's distinguished blog network. I may be idiosyncratic, but I'm not crazy, so I was thrilled to accept. Thus beginning later this month, the PLoS blogs site is where you will find On Science Blogs. At the moment, the first official post for On Science Blogs is scheduled for August 23. But it looks as if I will be contributing a Guest Post to the PLoS Blog Network the week before that, August 16.

Not much else will change. Posts will still appear on Fridays. I'll still pick a few science-related topics that interest me and describe what other bloggers have to say about them. And I'll still deliver myself of my own comments about their comments.

On Science Blogs is not a blog only about how the media handle science and medicine; for that there are the estimable Knight Science Journalism Trackers and Gary Schwitzer's fine HealthNewsReview. But I will continue to write often about professional aspects of science and medical writing and blogging, especially science and medical journalism.

I started On Science Blogs here on the National Association of Science Writers site in 2009 because nobody else was talking regularly about science and medical blogging. Blogs were only beginning to be taken seriously, but it was perfectly clear by then that many blogs about science and medicine, some written by science journalists and some by scientists, were doing splendid jobs of explanation and interpretation.

What science bloggers were up to, however, was not much discussed. At that point, for instance, the Trackers and HealthNewsReview were focusing on mainstream media, and Schwitzer was even bravely struggling to make television's execrable health news clean up its act. (Eventually, he came to grips with the hopelessness of that doomed task and gave it up.)

So in 2009 I saw a gap that needed filling. I brought my idea for a blog about science blogging to Terry Devitt, then chairing NASW's Internet Committee. He agreed, bless his heart. Bless the hearts of many others as well, perhaps most notably the NASW Cybrarian Russell Clemings, who has saved my bacon nearly every week. Also A'ndrea Messer, adept at the bacon task too, and a dab hand at compliments. I can't name all the other NASW members who have also said nice things, but I'm grateful to you for being so encouraging. Even after hundreds of posts, every week On Science Blogs continues to be quite a lot of work, and I'm much obliged for your pats on the back. This has been a comfortable place to be.

However, life moves on. The archive of posts to date will remain here on the NASW site at the usual URL (https://www.nasw.org/user/157/blog). But beginning August 23, find On Science Blogs Fridays at (http://blogs.plos.org/onscienceblogs/).

MOVING ON TO THE GENETIC LITERACY PROJECT TOO! Fortuity rules. At the same time On Science Blogs is moving to the PLoS Blog Network, I have also been invited to begin blogging for the Genetic Literacy Project. I'm thrilled about that, too.

GLP is a nonprofit aggregator of news about genetics with an emphasis on human applications and agricultural biotechnology. GLP, however, is an aggregator with a difference, a big difference. GLP content is assembled not by soulless robots but by smart, savvy human beings, and it shows. GLP is matchless for keeping up with news about genomes. But the news, pulled from a huge number of sources including many that will be new to you, has been curated and summarized carefully and often is accompanied by links to helpful supplementary material.

GLP also publishes original material. The plan is to do more of that, and I seem to be part of the plan. I am signed up to blog there once a week on a genetic topic, discussing what others have said about it and commenting on those discussions. I'll also be looking at how well the media have been handling genetics — or not.

We haven't named the genetics blog yet; suggestions gratefully received. It is scheduled to appear on Thursdays. If I can master an unfamiliar posting system, I hope the first installment will be published next Thursday, August 8.

HOW TO BECOME THE NEXT NATE SILVER — OR AT LEAST GO TO WORK FOR HIM. Last week I made the case that the departure of statistician Nate Silver and his political blog FiveThirtyEight from the New York Times was not nearly the tragedy it was being made out to be except maybe for the Times itself, which has good reason to be downcast.

Looks to me as if Silver's plans at ESPN/ABC, which most notably include establishing FiveThirtyEight.com as a well-staffed site for data-driven news, are potentially a great big boost for journalism in general and science journalism in particular.

In a Q&A last Monday, Silver told Deadspin that he foresees a site with 3-4 articles per day, plus blogging and other short posts.

What I'm not quite sure about is exactly how many people we'll need to hire to make that happen, and what the mix of freelancers versus full-time staffers will be.

And he's hiring.

And yes — we are taking resumes. (There's no formal process for this yet, but it's not too hard to find my email.) We've already gotten interest from some great quant-friendly journalists.

He's right about email. nrsilver@gmail.com. Twitter, @fivethirtyeight. However, more disconcertingly, he also said:

What's a little bit tougher to find is people who are jouranlism[sic]-friendly quants, if that makes sense — people who might be employed in (say) tech or finance or consulting right now but who can express themselves pretty well and who might be interested in a change of careers.

HOW TO BECOME A DATA-DRIVEN WRITER. Assuming you're not one of those existing quant folks, that you're a mere writer who would like to become more quant-friendly, how to begin? Glad you asked. As it happens, you're just in time for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas' online class on that topic: Data-Driven Journalism: The Basics. It runs from August 12 (that's Monday week) to September 16, and it's FREE. Info and registration here.

GOODBYE AND HELLO. Farewell, but I'm not done yet. See you soon, I hope, on the PLoS Blog Network and also at the Genetic Literacy Project.

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