All week I have been discussing ways to get Black Press outlets to incorporate more science news in their lineups. In October 2012, I submitted two (1 and 2) proposals for science related panels for the 2013 National Association of Black Journalism meeting. By New Year’s I received the news that both had been rejected.
Thanks to the reach out from some NABJ members, I felt quite confident that maybe the selection committee was as eager for science news track as these individual members were. Although my proposals were rejected, that still doesn’t mean that the selection committee isn’t interested in the topics. Maybe I need to tweak the proposals or better yet, I should have had a member of NABJ submit them. The call for proposals didn’t say so, but the wording of these rejection letters lead me to believe that my (non) membership status may have played a role. Not being a member of NABJ or even a journalist, I knew I was daring to go into unfamiliar territory – not comprehending the culture or the process of topic selection, but the calls for proposals seemed to be interested in new ideas from new individuals.
I have wondered if I should become a member of NABJ in order to promote my ideas from within. But honestly, that would not be in my best personal interests. I’m a scientist – doing a post-doc. My scholarship comes first and I am not at all well-versed in the craft of journalism. I have no desire to ruffle feathers among those in a field to whom I am an un-trained wonk. I want to cultivate relationships – between scientists and journalists, between science communicators and the public. I don’t want to completely shift my focus from science – research and outreach – to journalism. I see how the two are connected, but I don’t think I need to steer the bus. Keeping my fingers crossed that I identify more allies in the future.