Oct 10

Lessig, El Pais, science reporting and Filloux

Occasionally I have to collect a series of bits and pieces into a roundup/catchup because I can’t find a thematic string on which I can thread the beads I’ve collected. This is one of those posts.

  • Of all the media stories across the globe in the past week, the hedge-fund pair who have taken a rescuing and controlling stake in the debt-crippled Prisa group, whose flagship is the Madrid daily El Pais and which operates throughout the Spanish-speaking world, look like the most important. The background history is here and a look at the new owners is here. “Industry agnostic” owners who don’t want to be media moguls have a mixed history with news media. They can be hands-off and allow the talent to flourish. But, because news media isn’t just another business like soap manufacture or semiconductors, hands-off can mean disconnected and under-informed. We’ll see.
  • Whether or not you see “The Social Network”, the movie about the creation (and subsequent lawsuits) of Facebook, read Lawrence Lessig’s reflection on the film.
  • I was on a panel a few months back with the science blogger Martin Robbins. Most of what he said seemed to make sense to me. The other day he wrote a blog post spoofing science reporting which deservedly went viral. This is his more serious – and more useful – follow-up.
  • There was a neatly-angled Monday Note this week from Frederic Filloux comparing the recent dealings of two papers, Le Monde and the Daily Telegraph, with their respective governments over leaks.
  • Lastly, a short shameless blast of the trumpet for my City University colleague Ann McFerran, who last night organised a panel discussion on the lessons of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. If you enjoy reading discussions reported in Twitter fragments, it’s here. Roy Greenslade has summarised the debate here. (Disclosure: both Greenslade and I teach at City).

Sep 10

Does science journalism need saving?

David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of Wired magazine, thinks so and explains why here. One sentence takeout: science writers, to survive and prosper, are going to have to learn to be less dependent on journalism’s institutions, which are being eroded.

Footnote: David Dobbs, namechecked in David’s lecture to Dutch science writers, is currently a Visiting Fellow at City University’s Journalism department in London.

Update 29/9/10: I appeared on a panel with Martin Robbins not long ago and thought that more or less everything he had to say about science journalism made sense. His dig at the mannerisms of science reporting is on the nail.