Connecting Your Community With Science

13 August 2014 by Susan E. Swanberg, posted in Blog Posts

Curt Hughes with his telescope

Curt Hughes and his telescope Credit: Susan E. Swanberg

It’s been several weeks since I joined SciLogs, and I love it! Writing about science has to be the perfect gig. The SciLogs community has been welcoming, which makes me want to dig in and do a great job. The community manager is wonderful about promoting us and does some fantastic writing herself.

One of my other gigs is writing as a freelancer for Wick Communications, a community newspaper group in Southern Arizona. I started as an intern (paid) and continued writing for them when the internship ended. Writing for two Wick papers, the Green Valley News and Sahuarita Sun has been a fantastic experience—and my editor is super. He’s there when you need him, but doesn’t micromanage.

As a former scientist, I understand how important it is to communicate scientific issues, policies and discoveries to the public. Community newspapers are on the front lines, right where we need to be to engage the public with science.

Robert Ward with one of his meteorites

Robert Ward with a slice from one of his meteorites. Credit: Susan E. Swanberg

If you want to break into science writing, look into freelancing for your community newspaper. Pitch four or five science stories to the editor. If you already have clips, send them on as writing samples. If you don’t have clips, write up one or two short pieces—stories with a local connection that you can link to the greater scientific enterprise, stories that get people thinking about their connection to nature.

If you can take photos to go with your stories, so much the better!

Blaze and Karen Pomroy

Karen Pomroy and Sahuarita wild horse, Blaze. Credit: Susan E. Swanberg

I’ve written stories for Wick newspapers about using a telescope to explore Arizona’s dark skies, the wild horses in Sahuarita, conserving cultural treasures in the Southwest, the science of fear and a meteorite that fell near Tucson—science stories with a local twist and a broad perspective.

I feel privileged to be part of the community newspaper enterprise…and it sure is fun to see my story about Moth Week on the front page of the Green Valley News today!


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