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March 22, 2009
Blogs and Journalism
Nature is out with a piece on the state of science journalism, and I'm quoted several times as a representative science blogger. They've overstated my blog traffic, though, which is gratifying but inaccurate. Instead of 200,000 page views per week, that's more like my traffic per month. Give it time, I guess! I also am an occasional contributor to an Atlantic web site, not a regular columnist for them.
Update: And in a response to the Nature article by science writer Francis Sedgemore, there's this:
One successful science blog identified by Brumfiel is that of pharmaceutical industry researcher Derek Lowe. “In the Pipeline” is a very well-written blog, but here we have a classic example of a blogospheric closed ecosystem. Lowe’s writing is not journalism, and can never be so given the author’s declared affiliation. More genuinely independent sources of online science news and comment include the web magazines Wired and Seed.
I guess it depends on whether opinion journalism is journalism - since that's what I write much of the time. And how about when I'm writing about something that has no connection to the pharmaceutical industry; do I slip back over the line then? To tell you the truth, I'm not necessarily sold on the idea of journalism as a particular professional category - as far as I know, the whole idea of the dispassionate truth-seeking journalist is a pretty recent one.
But that said, I don't consider myself a journalist, either, under almost anyone's definition. I'll take "writer", although that should really be "part-time writer": I'm a scientist by trade; the writing is something I do on my train rides or in the evenings. If I had to support my family on earnings from my written work, we'd all be eating weeds out of the back yard.
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