Tag Archives: Coverage

#sci4hels Question Time #4 – How Should Science Journalists Deal with Breaking News?

Image: Bernard Bujold

Image: Bernard Bujold

Last week was sort of a nightmare for everyone. Between the Boston marathon bombings and ensuing man-hunt, the explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas, the earthquakes in China and Iran, the bombs in Baghdad, and whatever else I’m missing. Oh, did I mention the elvis impersonator who mailed ricin to the president? Yeah, that happened too, and nobody paid attention because we were all too busy wondering what had happened to the world. It was that kind of week.

Really, though, all the attention here in the United States was on Boston. The coverage was messy, and I don’t want to go into that. There are lots of smart people already thinking about how journalists went wrong (and right) when covering the actual events as they happened. What I want to talk about is how science journalists deal with this sort of a news event – one that is not a science story unless we make it one.

What are our obligations as science journalists when Boston happens? When Aurora happens? When Newtown happens? Do we have to cover it? And if we do, how do we do it right? We’re all going to have different opinions on this, so here are some thoughts from the #sci4hels panelists (and Bora, who we’ll call the founder of the panel). Here’s what we think.

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