Science Journalism enters a ‘Golden Age’

Thomas Hayden, professor of science and environmental communication and journalism at Stanford University, said collaboration is key to strengthening science journalism. Photo by El Universal/Germán Espinosa

PALO ALTO, Calif. – As traditional journalism struggles with challenges posed by instant and sometimes inaccurate reporting via the internet, science journalism has entered a “Golden Age,” said Thomas Hayden, Stanford University professor of science and environmental communication and journalism, during the opening session of the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop.

“With the rise of online science journalism, the old feelings of comfort and caution are gone,” Hayden said. “There’s a hunger there and that desperation has helped build a community in science journalism.”

In sharp contrast to traditional science reporting which often focused on the scientific “paper of the week,” today’s science journalism is explanation-driven, Hayden said.

“There were real restrictions and real problems with the old way of science journalism,” Hayden said. “Now, something remarkable has happened. The field as a whole has become much more serious. Science journalists are increasingly acting as investigative journalists. Today, as a result, we find ourselves in an unexpected but most robust development.”

Hayden made his remarks during the July 17-21, 2018, workshop organized by InquireFirst and Fundacion Ealy Ortiz at Stanford University and in San Francisco.

In today’s media environment, much of the science journalism in the U.S. and Latin America is taking place at nonprofit organizations, “all of which are extremely high quality and adventuresome.”

“The health of the field of journalism has never been better,” Hayden said. “But the health of individual journalism organizations is tenuous. We have great quality contrasted against the precarious nature of the industry."

Science journalism programs at universities such as Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, can be part of the solution, Hayden said.

“We have to throw the doors to journalism wide open – to all cultures, to all backgrounds, to all genders, to all races,” he said. “Journalism at its heart is democracy in action. It’s one of the ways that citizens can actually make a difference in their country."

Science journalists also have to collaborate.

“We can’t invent the future of journalism on our own,” Hayden said. “It takes a lot of partnerships to find our way home to a strong science journalism future.”

Andrew Revkin, strategic adviser for science and environmental journalism at The National Geographic Society, called for more collaboration among the region’s science journalists and among organizations such as InquireFirst, International Journalist’s Network and that support science journalism.  Read more

Rosalind Reid joins InquireFirst board of directors

We’re pleased to announce that Rosalind Reid, executive and program director for the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW), has joined the InquireFirst board of directors.

Reid’s love of science writing began when she walked into the North Carolina State University news bureau in 1984, discovered physics, and gave up political reporting. Six years later she joined the staff of American Scientist magazine, serving as editor-in-chief from 1992 to 2008 and taking a leave to become the first journalist in residence at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara.

Over her years as a magazine editor, Reid also traveled widely to present workshops on the visual communication of science. That work led to a fellowship at Harvard, where she stayed on to launch an institute devoted to computational science while serving on the board of CASW. Read more

Building Science Journalism Networks Around the World

Enrique Bustamante, director of Mexico City-based Fundación Ealy Ortiz and InquireFirst media partner, challenged science journalists across the globe to build networks to strengthen reporting on science, health, technology and the environment. Bustamante issued the challenge during a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco, California.

New opportunities for Latin American reporters and editors announced during Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop

Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz (right) owner and publisher of the Mexico City daily El Universal, greets Gemi José González, Consul General of Mexico in San Francisco, at the opening ceremony of the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop at Stanford University. Photo by El Universal/Germán Espinosa

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Latin American science journalists were presented with a host of new professional development opportunities during the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop at Stanford University.

The June 17-21, 2018 workshop, organized by InquireFirst and Mexico City-based Fundación Ealy Ortiz, focused on training opportunities – with Latin American science journalists as both participants and instructors – as well as steps to form a regional science journalism network.

Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, owner and publisher of the Mexico City daily newspaper El Universal, announced that he is establishing a multi-platform “high-impact” science section with “the highest standards for content and selection of infographics.”

Ealy Ortiz also announced that he is forming an Institute for Science Journalism and International Training which will be headed by Enrique Bustamante, who also serves as director of Fundación Ealy Ortiz. The Institute will offer training to science journalists, researchers, scientists and science communicators, he said.

Ealy Ortiz said he will be providing travel fellowships for Latin American and Caribbean science journalists to attend the 2019 World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Read more


Making a difference
Zika workshop focuses on international collaboration

Journalists from 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean made a field visit to La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica during a regional workshop organized by InquireFirst. Photo by José Diaz/Agencia Ojo por Ojo

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Science and health journalism should not be limited by international borders. Complex new health threats such as Zika virus that occur in a “noisy” media environment require a new model of reporting, Andrew Revkin, strategic adviser on science and environmental journalism for The National Geographic Society, told reporters and editors at a regional science journalism workshop organized by InquireFirst in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.

Revkin was one of several prominent science and environment editors from major U.S. media organizations who traveled to Costa Rica for a March 4-8, 2018, workshop to help journalists hone their science and health reporting skills on public health coverage such as Zika and vector-borne diseases.

The regional workshop titled “Informing About Risks and Prevention of an Epidemic” was attended by 37 science and health journalists from 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Read more


Drilling Down on America's Water Supply

Will the United States continue to be a country where people can turn on the tap and assume the water that comes out is safe and affordable? In this, the first major report in InquireFirst’s long-term drinking water project, reporter Elizabeth Douglass travels to Lake Station, Indiana, to begin answering that question by exploring the growing pressure on cities and towns to privatize their municipal drinking water systems.

View photos by John Nelson/InquireFirst

2018 Symposiums

InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker will organize and instruct journalism symposiums in 2018 on investigative reporting and safety protocols, digital storytelling and science, health and environment coverage in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The symposiums will be presented in Spanish.

El Universal/Germán Espinosa

June 17-21, 2018
Palo Alto and San Francisco, California
Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop, Latin American edition

The Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism workshop will return to the Bay Area for the second consecutive year to offer advanced training on environment, energy and Earth sciences to Latin American and Caribbean reporters and editors.

InquireFirst will organize and direct the 2018 Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop at Stanford University in collaboration with Mexico City-based Fundación Ealy Ortiz.

Some 25 journalists from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, the U.S. and Spain will attend the June 17-21 program. Journalists will hear from leading scientists and researchers who will discuss ways in which they are working across international borders to find solutions to the critical health and environmental issues facing the region.

The final day of the workshop, which will be held in San Francisco, Calif., will focus on the art of science writing, with prominent U.S. and Latin American science and environmental journalists leading hands-on, interactive sessions.

A key goal of the workshop will be encountering ways to strengthen science journalism in the Americas through international networking and new reporting opportunities.


March 4-8, 2018
San José, Costa Rica
Regional Science Journalism Workshop

Forty science journalists from 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will make a field visit to one of Costa Rica’s tropical rain forests during a professional journalism workshop organized and directed by InquireFirst.

Journalists will hike the paths of La Selva Biological Station, one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rain forests. La Selva is comprised of 3,900 acres of tropical wet forests in northern Costa Rica and averages over 13 feet of rainfall a year. More than 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site.

During the five-day workshop titled, “Informing the public about the risks and prevention of an epidemic,” Latin American scientists and researchers will meet with journalists to discuss advances in research on the Zika virus as well as clinical trials to develop a vaccine.

The workshop will place a special emphasis on techniques for interviewing scientists to more effectively explain complex scientific information to the public.

During interactive sessions, prominent U.S. and Latin American journalists will work with reporters and editors on preparing for interviews, asking difficult questions and telling the story of Zika and other vector-borne diseases in a convincing and compelling way.