- How Science Works
- Sources and Experts: Where to Find Them and How to Vet Them
- Making Sense of Science Stats
- Editing for Story
- Editing Controversial Science
- Holding Science to Account
- Covering Health Care
- Climate and the Environment
- Fact-Checking Science Journalism: How to Make Sure Your Stories Are True
Illustrating Complex Science Stories
- The Role of Visuals in Science Journalism
- The Process of Building Science-Centric Graphics
- Strategies for Using Visuals to Put Breaking Science in Context
- Special Considerations for Data Visualization
- Uncertainty and Misinformation
- Editorial Illustration, Photography, and Moving Images
- Additional Reading and Resources
- About the Author
- Social Media and Reader Engagement
- About This Handbook
By Melinda Wenner Moyer / 2 minute read
People say that success is all about who you know. In journalism — and science journalism in particular — success is all about who you talk with. Reporters’ approach to a particular science story — angle, perspective, even the decision to cover it or not — will be shaped by the sources interviewed and the perspectives and expertise those sources provide. Is this potential new cancer cure laudable? That can be a hard question for even the most seasoned reporter to answer, but a good source can address the question knowledgeably. Is this new theory about dark matter plausible? The right physicist can put the idea into context.
Sources are also crucial for finding and building narratives. An otherwise bland story can blossom when it weaves in the tale of a scientist’s long and tumultuous path to discovery. The real-life implications of a drug’s clinical trial become much clearer and important to readers if they get to meet a patient whose life could be transformed by the medicine. Science is conducted by people with complex lives and stories and backgrounds, and it affects people with equally complex lives and stories and backgrounds. The more that reporters can bring humanity to the science, the more their readers will value it.
How can reporters find sources with just the right expertise? How should they vet their sources to make sure they’re appropriately knowledgeable and don’t have an axe to grind? How should writers ensure that stories include diverse voices, and what’s the best way to present opposing viewpoints? These are hard questions, but some, at least, have straightforward answers.