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Becoming a science writer

  1. Jan 28, 2004 #1


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    I'm considering trying to become a science journalist. I love to write, and believe I'm fairly good at making science accessible to the layman. I think it'd be a pretty neat job, and would be rather rewarding.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to... get started? There seems to be a rather serious catch-22 in the way science journalism operates: you need to conduct interviews to get material with which to practice and build a portfolio, but no one will agree to an interview with an unknown writer.

    Also, I'm not exactly looking forward to years of silent rejection by publishing companies, but I will submit if I must.

    Does anyone have any advice?

    - Warren
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  3. Jan 28, 2004 #2

    I agree that you could do this kind of writing well.

    What you need to do is convince a journal or magazine or whatever that publishes the sort of thing you want to write to give you a try. Put together a portfolio of sample pieces whose purpose is to demonstrate the clarity of your science writing. Interview your old college physics professor, if you need someone to interview, it doesn't really matter for the samples.

    Then you approach the journals. Once you are in the employ of one of these, even if it is a trial kind of thing, you can approach anyone saying you're a writer for the such and such Journal of Physics, or whatever, and have the necessary juice behind you to get them to seriously consider an interview.

    Remember too, it's not what you know but who you know. Meet writers, who get paid for it. Every one of them knows a guy who knows a guy.

  4. Jan 28, 2004 #3
    you mean you want to do something like, say, write for Scientific American?
  5. Jan 28, 2004 #4


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    Yep, it all comes down to finding those people with whom I can do an interview. Perhaps I can try cold-writing first, without any actual interviews. Columns and short articles often need no interviews, for example. The most interesting science writing I read, however, is usually a recant of an interview.

    And brum, yes, that's what I'm talking about. :smile:

    - Warren
  6. Jan 29, 2004 #5
    Hey! I know "someone who knows someone", Greg ask if you can do, some of the interviews he does, for the forums newsletter.....or not
  7. Jan 29, 2004 #6
    I know no one chroot, but it sounds like a good job. It struck me I might do this someday myself! I could always contact you when I have finished my astronomy studies. :smile:
  8. Jan 29, 2004 #7


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    Me too! (hmm...competition)

    I contacted a science journalist from my local newspaper and asked his advice. He turned out to be very helpful. The bottom line for a beginner is in developing a portfolio (like zoobyshoe said).

    So far, the problem I've had is in finding the time to do it!

    Perhaps, hopefully, Physics Post can be some kind of launching pad for us. (thanks Greg!)
  9. Jan 29, 2004 #8


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    If you can post a thread that will help 'dummies' like me to understand ST and LQG and their differences (especially background dependency! - jeez, that one is just bogging me down. i need to 'see' it, and i can't) you could submit your post!!!
    Physical science is mind-boggling to many of us life-sciencers!! We just can't 'see' THAT small!!! (did i say that right? )

    edit: Oh yeah! And supersymmetry! WHAT is THAT? :frown:
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2004
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