Yesterday a rather brilliant physiology researcher, who blogs as Isis the Scientist, replied to my recent post “The Trouble with Scientists” with one of her own titled – can you believe it? – “The Trouble with Journalists.”
Dr. Isis notes that neither of us really got the title right. She proposes “The Trouble with the Old Tired Drama between Scientists and Journalists.” I had to laugh because I based my original title on an old Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Trouble with Harry, in which the plot centers on a body that just keeps reappearing, much like the ongoing irritable discussion between journalists and scientists only more bullet-riddled.
Dr. Isis writes: It’s the same fight over and over. I think that part of the reason this discussion gives me so much trouble is because much of it is based on the touchy-feely qualitative type of reactions that are the antithesis to science. An older scientist says something admittedly delusional and he becomes the poster child for all that is wrong with science communication. A journalist gets the story wrong and becomes evidence that journalists don’t know how to cover science.
Agreed. But this IS starting to change and I believe that’s actually due in part to rise of science blogging. For a long time, the culture of journalism and the culture of science have been distinctly separate entities. But within the culture of blogging, scientists and journalists can find themselves on curiously similar ground – working to open up the world of science for others. It’s not only about new ways of telling the story of science, it’s also about new relationships – and I think new understanding – of each other. Our mutual interests bring us together at conferences like Science Online.
Or, as Dr. Isis points out, she and I occasionally improve our understanding during an evening that looks like this:
We spend these evenings, of course, dedicated only to our mutual professional interests .