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
ABOUT Matt Shipman
Matt Shipman is a science writer and public information officer at North Carolina State University, where he writes about everything from forensic anthropology to computer malware. He previously worked as a reporter and editor in the Washington, D.C. area for Inside EPA, Water Policy Report and Risk Policy Report, covering the nexus of science, politics and policy.
In his free time, Shipman runs a non-profit organization called the First Step Project that has nothing to do with science, plays guitar badly (but with enthusiasm) and keeps track of the juvenile humans who live in his house. You can follow him on Twitter: @ShipLives.
Shipman is also the author of The Handbook for Science Public Information Officers (2015, University of Chicago Press) and a contributing author to The Complete Guide to Science Blogging (2015, Yale University Press).
Anyone interested in hiring Shipman for freelance writing or editing projects can reach him at shiplives[at]gmail.com.
Matt Shipman: All Posts
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
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
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
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
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
It’s not news that the comments sections of online news sites can be hot spots for sharing ill-informed views, ad hominem attacks, or just good old fashioned vituperation. A recent study out of Germany finds that online comments – even polite, well-reasoned ones – can also hurt the perceived quality of news stories. One reason this is worth noting is that people in the U.S. get a lot of their science news from online sources – and that number is... Read more
Parents, particularly first-time parents, get a lot of advice – whether they want it or not. Some of that advice comes from professionals, such as obstetricians, pediatricians and nurses. But a lot of advice comes from less reliable sources. New parents, and expecting parents, are often told that they “have” to do this or that. Sometimes it feels like everyone knows exactly what to do in order to get a baby to sleep, how a baby should be fed, or... Read more
Want to hear me talk about some of the nuts and bolts of science communication? Now’s your chance. In autumn of 2015, PLOS launched a podcast series called PLOScast. The podcasts include periodic “Research Reading” roundups, as well as interviews on issues ranging from the future of scientific collaboration to open access publishing. Episode 8, which went online recently, was a conversation between me and Elizabeth Seiver, a science communication researcher at PLOS. The conversation was, naturally enough, focused on... Read more
It is a truth universally acknowledged that people are often wrong on the internet. This can manifest itself in the form of conspiracy theories, inaccurate information related to breaking news, or misleading (or just plain wrong) information related to science and research. Sometimes inaccurate information is annoying, or even comical. Sometimes, however, inaccurate information can have serious consequences – such as online memes that mislead people about public health issues or when news reports say that an innocent person is... Read more