Friday, May 09, 2008

the times they are a'changing

looking back on the 15 years from which I've sampled the texts for my platypus book, I have also become aware of how much science coverage in newspapers and magazines has changed during this time.

One of my first pieces, back in 1993, was 150 lines on the structure of the enzyme nitrogenase. No way I could get something as seriously technical published in a national newspaper today.

What happened in the interim is that everything switched to daily deadlines. Newspapers now slot "science" stories in with the current news, but the result is of course that only those get reported that are newsy enough to be able to compete with the shock and horror stories from around the world.

Monthly magazines, of course, still appear monthly, but they too have started doing daily reporting online. Again, the necessary speed and competition with other news media hasn't exactly improved the depth and quality of the reporting.

I have been uneasy about these changes for a while now, but never seen them discussed anywhere. Now there has been a feature in MediaGuardian which highlights some of the problems that I am also worried about.

I guess the take-home lesson is, treasure your monthly magazines as long as they exist -- one day all reporting may get switched to become the intellectual equivalent of fast food.

1 comment:

Michael said...

For a German blog entry on this topic, click here

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