Choosing Between Blog Posts and News Releases

Posted 5 September 2014 by Matt Shipman

In my day job, I’m a public information officer (PIO) at NC State University. Part of my job is to pitch research stories to reporters, and two of the tools I use when pitching stories are blog posts and news releases. This post discusses two examples that shed some light on how I decide which tool to use. The Similarities Earlier this summer, researchers came to me with two forthcoming papers. They had a lot in common. Both papers were... Read more

Institutional Blogging: Do You Really Want To Do This?

Posted 4 August 2014 by Matt Shipman

Someone where you work (maybe it’s you), says: “Maybe we should start a blog.” Why not? Lots of people have blogs, and some of them are really popular. So maybe your office should start a blog about all of the stuff going on at your university, research lab, department, or whatever. After all, you’re doing stuff that’s really cool and you want people to know about it. But then the questions start. How much would it cost? Who would write... Read more

How I Decide What To Blog About

Posted 23 June 2014 by Matt Shipman

I think about writing in different ways, depending on who I’m writing for. I’m a science writer and public information officer (PIO) at a large university. When I’m writing in my capacity as a PIO, I am writing for my employer; I’m pretty thoughtful in regard to both what I choose to write about and how I choose to write about it. Is it a story that people will be interested in? Is this research interesting or important to external... Read more

Help Me Help a Great Science Blog Become Self-Sustaining

Posted 3 January 2014 by Matt Shipman

This is a post about a problem that I am hoping you, dear readers, will help solve. Namely, how can a creative, dynamic blog that started as a pet project evolve into an entity that is self-supporting? (And no, I’m not talking about myself.) One of the science blogs I fell in love with last year was Buzz Hoot Roar, which marries short blog posts with wonderful art to tell people about science. The blog is a labor of love,... Read more

One More Bad (Bug) Science Pitch

Posted 9 September 2013 by Matt Shipman

I recently ran a post on what we can learn from bad pitches that public relations (PR) folks make to science reporters. I asked science writers to send me some bad pitches they received (and there were some doozies), but couldn’t find room for them all. Here’s one that’s worth highlighting. Gwen Pearson is better known in the science writing community as Bug Girl. An entomologist, science communicator and prodigious blogger, she has shared her love for the insect world... Read more

Embargoes and Retractions: an Interview with Ivan Oransky, Part Two

Posted 25 July 2013 by Matt Shipman

In the second part of my interview with Ivan Oransky, we talk about what led to his founding of Embargo Watch and co-founding of Retraction Watch – as well as the Ingelfinger Rule, what he looks for in a medical reporter and what you can learn from grad students. The first part of the interview can be found here. CB: You started at Reuters Health in 2009, and I’m guessing that being executive editor took up an enormous amount of... Read more

Run Home to Start Writing: an Interview with Ivan Oransky, Part One

Posted 24 July 2013 by Matt Shipman

From family practice to cancer research, there are many career paths open to medical doctors. But few take the path chosen by Ivan Oransky, who became a journalist after earning his M.D. Oransky has worked for news outlets from Scientific American to Reuters Health, and has most recently taken a position as global editorial director for the online news service MedPage Today. Somehow, he’s also found time to create two blogs, Retraction Watch and Embargo Watch, that focus on little-discussed... Read more

Don’t Panic: Challenges Regarding Science, News and Comments Online

Posted 7 January 2013 by Matt Shipman

A recent “Perspectives” commentary in Science on the importance of online science news – and associated challenges – has (unsurprisingly) gotten a fair amount of attention in the science communication community. Not all of it good. But I think that, at the very least, it presents a good opportunity to lay out some of those challenges and, hopefully, spark a productive discussion about how to address them. The commentary also refers to a forthcoming paper on the impact of online... Read more

Matter’s Growing Pains, and the Value of Preparation

Posted 20 November 2012 by Matt Shipman

This is more of a note than a fully evolved post, but it’s a good reminder of the value of preparation. I’m talking about the recent (very public) growing pains of Matter – a new, online outlet for publishing long-form, independent journalism that focuses on various aspects of science and/or technology. I love the idea behind Matter, which published its first story this month, in large part because I love long-form articles when they’re done well. They are captivating. However,... Read more

Oops: How to Recover From a Mistake

Posted 19 November 2012 by Matt Shipman

Assuming you are a human, you are going to make mistakes. But if you’re a reporter, blogger or PIO, those mistakes can be public. And embarrassing. So how do you recover gracefully, or at least with as little damage as possible to your reputation? Here’s the short answer: admit your mistake as early as possible; never make excuses; and do not make the same mistake again. The problem with excuses When someone makes a mistake, their first reaction is often... Read more