Scientific Reporting: How Do I Keep Up?
Science is ever-changing, and with advances and discoveries now being made at an unprecedented pace, it has become more difficult for science reporters to keep up. In 2018 alone, we saw 3D printed lungs, evidence of past microbial life on Mars, lab-grown meat, and a new non-opioid withdrawal drug, amongst many other discoveries across all fields of science. With many fields growing and evolving every day, expectations for journalists are higher than ever.
If you’re interested in a career in scientific reporting, don’t let the state of the field scare you off. It is still possible to be a competent reporter who adapts to the constantly changing landscape. For one, there’s never any shortage of news – there will always be something to write your next article about. As far as keeping up, the first tool you should have is a science degree. The more general your science degree, the better, as it gives you a basis on which to grow your knowledge.
You will also want to read – a lot. Subscribe to the top magazines. Read all the timely and topical information you can, staying up-to-date on developments and discoveries. You won’t immediately become an expert on each topic, and that’s just fine. Being aware of what’s happening is a great start.
Of course there are benefits to being an expert – such as scientists in that specific field feeling more comfortable talking to you “off the record”. But a science reporter will be assigned one piece on a new kind of aurora and another on a migraine medication in a given week. You won’t be a specialist in every topic you write about, but your general knowledge, kept updated, will keep you well equipped.