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Big Changes at the Scientific American Blog Network

Posted 15 December 2014 by Matt Shipman

Scientific American posted an announcement Dec. 15, stating that editors will be “reshaping” the Scientific American Blog Network and releasing new editorial guidelines for the network. What wasn’t entirely clear in the post, titled “A New Vision For Scientific American’s Blog Network,” was that a number of blogs on the network have been eliminated. The Dec. 15 post does not say that any blogs have been cut, but as soon as the post was published a number of announcements began... Read more

Health News and the Importance of News Releases

Posted 10 December 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Ministry of Information Photo Division, via Wikimedia Commons. Click for more information.

A new study from the BMJ highlights the link between exaggeration in news releases about health-related research and exaggeration in news stories about that same research. And, in a timely coincidence, a project based out of the University of Minnesota has announced that it will be holding people accountable for misleading news releases. A paper describing the work, “The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study,” by Petroc Sumner, et al., was... Read more

Seasonal Science Stories: Using the Calendar as Your News Hook

Posted 4 December 2014 by Matt Shipman

Detail from poster for "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" (1964). Artist unknown. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Click on image to link to full poster.

Reporters and bloggers write in a variety of styles for a variety of audiences, but one of the things that every blog post or news item needs to do is explain to readers why the writer is telling this story now. What’s the news hook? Science stories are often reactive, meaning that the story was written in response to some external event that the writer had no control over – such as the publication of a journal article or a... Read more

Shirts, Science Communication, and Why Appearances Can Be Important

Posted 14 November 2014 by Matt Shipman

That Shirt

On Nov. 12, a robot launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) about ten years ago landed on a comet approximately 300 million miles away. Which is (literally) awesome. But this blog is about science communication, so I want to talk about a shirt. One of the ESA staffers prominently featured in coverage of the landing was Matt Taylor, who is head scientist on the project. Taylor is an intelligent guy, but he made the unfortunate decision to wear a... Read more

Following Your Passion Project: Notes from the 2014 National Association of Science Writers Meeting

Posted 13 November 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Tomasz Moczek, via Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Brooke Borel. Borel is a freelance science writer and author. She organized a session at the 2014 meeting of the National Association of Science Writers on what it takes to make a “passion project” a success, and I asked her to write a guest post on the subject. Last month, 430 science journalists and communicators took over a Marriott hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio for their annual meeting, which included talks and... Read more

Science Blogging and Citations

Posted 31 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: North Carolina State University

Paige Brown Jarreau, author of the SciLogs blog From The Lab Bench, recently wrote a lengthy post on the science of science blogging. The post included a lengthy list of related journal articles, and one of them caught my eye: “Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations?” With Paige’s blessing, I decided to unpack that particular paper a bit. The full title of the paper is “Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future... Read more

Beyond The News Release – How PIOs Can Connect With The Public

Posted 18 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Photo credit: Lauren Nichols, YourWildlife.org.

Public information officers (PIOs) at research institutions are responsible for helping their employers connect with the public. Often this is through conventional media relations and social media efforts. But sometimes PIOs can find other ways, unconventional ways, of connecting with various audiences. To explore these issues, Karen Kreeger, senior science communications manager at Penn Medicine, organized a session for this year’s National Association of Science Writers meeting at Ohio State University. The session, “Beyond the News Release Grind: Connecting with... Read more

Quick Questions About Scientific American Español

Posted 16 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/NOAA/USGS, via Wikimedia Commons.

On Oct. 15, Scientific American announced the launch of a new site called Scientific American español. The announcement describes the new site as “an online channel with a special focus on science news and information in Spanish.” Here’s an excerpt from the announcement: Our new Spanish-language site, headed by Debbie Ponchner under the direction of Robin Lloyd, Scientific American’s news editor, and Richard Zinken, director of international digital development, features the same authoritative take on science news and information that... Read more

Science Blogging for Institutions: Your Virtual Roundup of the ScienceWriters2014 #OrgBlog Session

Posted 16 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Blogs post header

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Rachel Ewing, a science and health news officer at Drexel University. Ewing is the organizer and moderator of a session called “Science Blogging for Institutions: How to Make Your #OrgBlog the Best it Can Be” at the National Association of Science Writers annual conference. This weekend at the National Association of Science Writers meeting in Columbus, OH, we’re going to talk about a topic that may be familiar to readers of Matt’s... Read more

Hands-On Science For Kids: An Interview with Liz Heinecke

Posted 6 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Heinecke and her kids -- who inspired her kitchen science experiments. Photo courtesy of Liz Heinecke.

Anyone who spends time with children knows that they are information sponges, eager to learn new things. But, in my experience, they can also have incredibly short attention spans. So if you want kids to be passionate about science, you will likely have to do more than just give them a book. One way to capture (and keep) a child’s interest is to give him or her the freedom to make a mess, shoot a rocket or make candy. In... Read more