New Models in Online Science Journalism

A sense of urgency has emerged in the last decade about the future of science journalism. While it is often argued as an important source of information for non-specialists, science journalism has been heavily criticized as unable to connect with citizens in ways that allow meaningful engagement with science. This critique has intensified as diverse informational environments have appeared online and contentious scientific issues (e.g GMOs, stem cells, climate change, biofuels) have moved towards the misuse of scientific evidence.

The objective of this research project is to build new ways of thinking about online science journalism that present improved solutions to the challenges facing science journalists online. In the words of Stuart Allen, the goal is for this project is “to identify productive ways forward in rethinking science journalism’s changing forms, practices and epistemologies within these diverse informational environments” [Journalism 12(7): 771]. It is here that this project seeks to make an impact by exploring how the emergent ecology of online science journalism (e.g. blogs, podcasts, Skype, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter) can be balanced with various hard-won, old-fashioned virtues of science journalism [Science 324: 1491].

Methodologically, the project will seek to adapt models of print science journalism – rough “portraits” of various ways to construct science journalism from within differing normative frameworks [Journalism Practice 7(1): 62-80] – to the creation of online journalism. This will involve systematic literature reviews, qualitative interviews with online science journalists and the creation of test science journalism.

This research could not be timelier, for Canadian science journalists currently work with limited and underdeveloped strategies for coping with a rapidly evolving online environment and the communication of contentious scientific issues.

Faculty Supervisor:

David Secko





Journalism / Media studies and communication



Concordia University



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