A Field Guide for Science Writers / Edition 1

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Overview


"Science writing offers some wonderful adventures," notes Patrick Young, a former editor of Science News. "I've visited the South pole, stared into a steaming volcano, covered the first human landing on the moon, and dived with an underwater archaeology team investigating an old fur trade route." But as Young readily admits, science writing is, above all, an adventure of the mind. It is in fact probably the most fascinating beat in journalism, spanning everything from new advances in cancer treatment and the depletion of the ozone layer, to dinosaurs, black holes in space, human evolution, animal behavior, and much more besides. What science writers ultimately cover--and convey to the reading public--is the forefront of human knowledge, the leading edge of our understanding of the universe and of ourselves.
Now, in A Field Guide for Science Writers, the official guide of the National Association of Science Writers, budding journalists and veteran reporters have a superb roadmap to this exciting area of journalism. Here some three dozen of the best known science writers in America share their hard-earned knowledge on how they do their job. Boyce Rensberger describes how he covers stories for the Washington Post; two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and New York Times reporter John Noble Wilford outlines the pitfalls and rewards of writing full-length books on scientific topics; NPR's Ira Flatow tells how radio pieces combine ambient sounds, music, voices, and facts to create a mental picture and evoke the feeling of "being there"; and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, author of the best-selling The Coming Plague, discusses how to cover, and survive, a deadly epidemic. Each article brims with detailed, nuts-and-bolts information. For instance, Mary Knudson prints a section of a piece she has published, and then explains point by point how she researched every detail. Victor Cohn provides six tests to help reporters discern between probable facts and probable trash. And Sandra Blakeslee, a freelance writer who reports regularly for the New York Times, discusses covering the field of neuroscience: what you should know, which books give you a good background knowledge, which courses might help, which meetings to attend, which journals to read. In addition, readers will learn how newspaper writing differs from magazine stories, books, and science journals; how to tell a good story, use sources, do investigative reporting, write a solid but interesting op-ed piece or science column; how to translate a highly technical journal article; how to pitch ideas to magazine editors; and how to find ideas. Finally, a superb appendix offers a goldmine of resources for science writers, including both general sources of information as well as sources in fields such as anthropology, earth sciences, the environment, health and medicine, and technology.
A Field Guide for Science Writers gathers together insights and tips, personal stories and lessons of some of America's best-known science writers, men and women who work for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Time Magazine, Science, Science News, National Public Radio, and other eminent news outlets. Filled with wonderful anecdotes and down-to-earth, practical information, it is both illuminating and a pleasure to read. If you want to be a science writer, this book will be your bible.

This authoritative handbook gathers together insights and tips, personal stories and lessons of some of America's best-known science writers, men and women who work for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Examiner, Time, , National Public Radio, and other eminent news outlets. Filled with wonderful anecdotes and down-to-earth, practical information, it is both illuminating and a pleasure to read. 288 pp. 7,500 print.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Thirty-eight contributions from some of the best known science writers in America. The writers share their expertise on how they do their jobs through insights, tips, anecdotes, and down-to-earth, practical information. Arrangement is in four sections covering: getting started, techniques of the trade, covering the stories in science, and working outside the media. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher

"This knowledgeable group of writers and editors points readers to the best sources and stories, discusses investigative reporting, tells how to pitch finished articles to editors, and much more."--Science News

"Pick a scientific field... and 1 of 38 science writers will tell you his or her secrets of writing clearly, and with the force of human narrative, about subjects often muddled in the public mind."--The Bloomsbury Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195100686
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/20/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Lexile: 1230L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors:
DEborah Blum is a science writer at The Sacramento Bee. She won the 1992 Pulitzer prize in Beat Reporting for a series of articles on primate research and has also written a book on the subject, The Monkey Wars. Mary Knudson is a freelance writer. She covered medicine for eighteen years with the Baltimore Sun. She also teaches a science-writing workshop at Johns Hopkins University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Editor's Note
1 Introduction 3
2 Covering Science for Newspapers 7
3 Writing Science for Magazines 17
4 Writing for Trade and Science Journals
Trade Journals 27
Science Journals 31
5 Broadcast Science Journalism
Reporting News 35
Magazine Style 38
6 Writing Books on Science Topics 43
7 Journalist and Scientist Co-authors 51
8 Scientists Who Write about Science for the Public 57
9 When Your Office Is in Your Home
Freelance Writing Issues 65
Freelance Business Issues 69
10 Telling a Good Tale 77
11 Investigative Science Journalism 86
12 Using Sources 94
13 Coping with Statistics 102
14 Writing Articles from Science Journals 110
15 Voicing Opinion on Science
Science Columns 117
Op-Ed Writing 122
16 Introduction 127
17 Critical Coverage of Public Health and Government 131
18 Reporting on Biology of Behavior 142
19 Covering Infectious Diseases 152
20 Reporting on Neuroscience 161
21 Toxics and Risk Reporting 166
22 Environmental Writing 173
23 Covering Earth Sciences 180
24 Covering Physics 188
25 Writing About Astronomy 196
26 Technology Writing 203
27 Introduction 213
28 Colleges and Universities 217
29 Government Agencies 226
30 Non-Profits, Small Research Laboratories, and Museums
Non-Profits 235
Small Research Laboratories and Museums 238
31 Business and Industry
Drug Industry and Other Medical Business 245
Technology Companies 251
Appendix: Sources of Information 257
Epilogue 281
Index 283
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