July 5, 2011 | 3
“What will science journalism look like in 10 years?” I was visiting Scientific American staff editor Christine Gorman’s class in New York University’s graduate science writing program recently when a student asked this question. I replied: “A lot like it’s always looked—only with different tools.”
My point was that the shining heart of science journalism is story. That cardinal feature of human interaction has a tradition that probably stretches back to the foundations of language itself. What has changed since people started sharing tales around the campfire is the tools we use to tell our stories. Once we related our narratives in person. Our audience was physically present and able to share in the process directly, by asking questions or commenting. Then, for a number of centuries, we put our stories down in handwriting and, later, in type—and the readers only could answer after a delay, with letters and, in recent decades, with phone calls. Scientific American, as the country’s oldest continuously published magazine, has played this role for nearly 166 years.
Today, however, the Internet speeds the immediacy of replies, and the audience can respond with more than a few hand-stamped snail-mail letters and an occasional call. A site’s visitors can provide near-instant response to posts, providing an opportunity for us all: We can together build a community that collectively enriches science stories.
So welcome to the Scientific American Blog Network, launching today—the start of a new, more expansive community of the science-minded. Bora Zivkovic, blogs editor, has invited dozens of sprightly voices from around the world of science and science writing to satisfy, incite and inspire our audience. We hope you will enjoy the stories they tell—and we invite you to let us know what you think. In the coming months and years, we look forward to building that future of science writing together.