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Goodbye, Old Blog – Hello, New Blog

Posted 5 July 2016 by Matt Shipman

SciLogs announced earlier this month that it will be shutting down in September. This marks the end of Communication Breakdown, but the beginning of my new blog, Science Communication Breakdown. I was invited to join the SciLogs blogging team in the autumn of 2012. In my first post, published October 24 of that year, I posed a baseline question: Is there enough to say about science communication to sustain a blog? The answer is, apparently, yes. To date, I’ve published... Read more

What News Story Characteristics Make People More Likely to Share It?

Posted 27 June 2016 by Matt Shipman

Online news outlets are interested in driving traffic to their websites. One way to do that is to get people to disseminate news stories through social media. A recent study attempts to outline which features in a news story make people more likely to share it. Getting people to share news stories online is important to online news companies, particularly those whose revenue models rely on online visitors. A study from Columbia University and the French National Institute found that... Read more

People Deem Feminine Women Less Likely to Be Scientists

Posted 24 June 2016 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Viviana Parra Noriega. Shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

A paper published in the journal Sex Roles, reports that people think that the more feminine a woman is, the less likely she is to be a scientist. The same stereotype holds true for attractive people of either gender, the paper reports. Ugh. The paper, “But You Don’t Look Like a Scientist!: Women Scientists With Feminine Appearance Are Deemed Less Likely to Be Scientists,” was published online Feb. 5. The paper was authored by Sarah Banchefsky, Bernadette Park and Charles... Read more

One Reason Scientists and Science Writers Want to Talk About Game of Thrones

Posted 23 June 2016 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: TaylorHerring. Shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

From dragons and dire wolves to the arid Red Waste and the frozen lands beyond the Wall, Game of Thrones is teeming with exotic creatures and habitats. It’s also teeming with violence, disease and cultural practices that often swing from pseudo-historical to utterly bizarre. And, in an impressive collection of blog posts, there are scientists and science writers who want to talk about Game of Thrones and the world in which it takes place. Westeros and its environs were created... Read more

An Attempt to Outline What Constitutes ‘Valuable Journalism’

Posted 24 May 2016 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Brighter Than Sunshine. Shared under a Creative Commons License. Click for more information.

Journalism is essential to having an informed public, and therefore to having healthy, representative government. But the news that people actually read, watch or listen to is often focused on entertainment, sports, or funny cat videos. So, what constitutes “valuable” journalism? Is it what people want? Or is it what people “need”? A recent paper published in Journalism Studies attempts to address the issue, laying out four aspects of reporting that the paper’s authors call the dimensions of “valuable journalism.”... Read more

One Scientist’s Attempt to Create a New Science Communication Platform

Posted 13 May 2016 by Matt Shipman

Kamy Singer. Photo courtesy of Kamy Singer.

As someone who writes about science communication, I’m always interested in experiments designed to help people share information about research and research findings. Sometimes they are formal studies designed by science communication scholars, and sometimes they’re efforts by scientists, reporters or professional communicators to try something new and see how it works. I work at NC State University, and in late 2015 met a postdoctoral researcher at NC State named Kamy Singer. His research focused on plant and microbial biology,... Read more

Black Girl Nerds: an Interview with Jamie Broadnax

Posted 11 May 2016 by Matt Shipman

Jamie Broadnax. Photo courtesy of Jamie Broadnax.

Jamie Broadnax is the founder of Black Girl Nerds (BGN), a blog and podcast that covers a lot of topics, many of which are related to entertainment and pop culture. But BGN also covers issues related to tech and STEM in general. I recently had the opportunity to ask Broadnax about things like the creation of BGN, how she decides what issues to cover, how she balances pop culture and sci/tech, and the importance of diversity for STEM. Communication Breakdown:... Read more

Why a TV Producer Created a Database for Finding Subject-Matter Experts

Posted 19 April 2016 by Matt Shipman

Editor’s Note: This is guest post by Stavros Rougas, a co-founder of Expertise Finder and a former producer at the Toronto-based current affairs program The Agenda with Steve Paikin. I recently heard of Expertise Finder and wanted to learn more about it. I figured that the fastest way to learn about it was to get the founder to explain it to me. To be clear, I’m not endorsing Expertise Finder, and have not been compensated in any way for running... Read more

The Peabody, Yale, and Natural History: an Interview with Richard Conniff

Posted 14 April 2016 by Matt Shipman

Photo courtesy of Richard Conniff.

I first visited the Peabody Museum of Natural History in the company of hundreds of science writers. The museum was hosting a social event for the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers, which gave me the opportunity to explore its exhibits in the company of people who were exceptionally well-informed and gifted storytellers. It was the best possible introduction. I visited again a few years later, this time in the company of family and friends. The enthusiasm... Read more

How U.S. Reporters Are Using Facebook, Twitter

Posted 8 April 2016 by Matt Shipman

Image credit: Sean MacEntee. Retrieved via Flickr and shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

Social media are used to connect with people and share information, so it is not surprising that reporters are using social media platforms in their work – connecting with sources and collecting information are fundamental aspects of journalism. A recent paper offers insights into how, and to what extent, newspaper journalists are using Facebook and Twitter in their reporting. The paper, “Tapping Into a New Stream of (Personal) Data: Assessing Journalists’ Different Use of Social Media,” was published online April... Read more