Why Science Journalism Is Important

As public radio journalists, we face tremendous challenges as we strive to present such complex information to our audiences. Before we can tell a science story we need to grasp the science behind it, keeping up with fast-paced science and identifying reliable sources quickly. The creative challenges are also immense: how to unfold a multilayered story using only sound. And we must realize that there is more than one understanding of truth and evidence: for instance, perspectives based on science, law, politics, economics and faith.

Science is no longer an ivory tower enterprise. Sorting out the intricate relationships among academe, the government and the world of commerce is a major task for today's enterprising reporters.

Scientific research, new technologies, paradigm shifts, challenges to accepted scientific "truths" ... these aren't just science stories. They play a major role in key political, economic, cultural and social policy discussions, as well as in public dialogue. Science issues are especially important to cover now as the United States risks losing its edge in research and development.

New standards for conflict of interest, full-disclosure, authorship and other ethical issues in science and research are now under scrutiny. These issues influence the lives, health and fortunes of public radio listeners. If the listeners can learn what is at stake, they will be able to weigh in on the public discussion.