The temptation to scour journals and publications for stories has always been there in science journalism, however an increasing number of publications during the past ten years has created an overload of ‘news’. At least, that is the feeling of James Randerson, environment and science news editor at The Guardian and chair of this meeting. But what can be done? Where can we find the smaller stories that so frequently slip under our radar?
Last summer, the BBC Trust published a review of the impartiality of its science coverage, including an independent report from professor Steve Jones and research from Imperial College’s Felicity Mellor. Along with Mary Hockaday, head of the BBC Newsroom, and David Shukman, BBC science editor, they discussed the findings of their research and whether BBC science reporting has changed as a result.
This session had a practical focus, looking at whether to self-publish (conclusion: maybe), using social media (yes, but having thousands of blog readers doesn’t mean you have a good book), what makes a good book (it’s a ‘wicked problem’), writing a book proposal, whether to quit your day-job (probably not), comparing fiction and non-fiction, and the all-important question of whether or not to write a book.
How do you stand out from the crowd, in an industry that churns out 200,000 books annually in the UK alone? Who is going to care about your work, especially in a niche genre like science, which represents only 2% of non-fiction sold by volume?
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