Journalism as activism

I went to the Science and Technology Awareness Network conference this morning with my science reporting. We were there to watch the speech of Adam Bly, the creator and editor of Seed magazine. It cost us $25 to go (plus parking) and I was not impressed at having to get up even earlier and get downtown for it.

But I honestly really ended up enjoying it. Entirely because of Adam Bly. He gave a very powerful presentation about science globally. He emphasized that everyone should be science literate. All 6.7 billion of us.

This is interesting to me because I don’t do science. I don’t get it, normally. I will never be a scientist (unless maybe you count an archaeologist). But the truth is that science effects everything. It’s the reason life is so different from the way it was just a hundred years ago. We have learned more about the world in the last hundred years than humans had since the beginning of civilization. Science is important to me, even though I’m not doing it.

The other thing he talked about reminded me, for the first time in a long time, the reason I went into journalism in the first place. He has this ideal of journalism being the vehicle for change. He won’t accept less than perfect from his publication. It isn’t lazy journalism, deadlnie journalism, where you write shit 364 days of the year, and write one good story one day. It’s not tired journalism.

Adam Bly said journalism, for him, is activism. And that’s why I used to want to be a journalist. To make a difference. But four years of j-school have taught me to expect the media to be mediocre. To expect that as a journalist I could never change the world.

I don’t want to be a journalist, because there are too many things wrong with journalism right now, and I don’t have the energy to change it. I know that makes me a bit of a coward, but I’ll leave change in the hands of people like Adam Bly and Barack Obama, to create “a world connected by science and imagination.”

1 Comment

  • By Anonymous, November 22, 2008 @ 10:25 am

    I share your (and Bly’s) enthusiasm for science journalists as educators and ‘activists’. It’s just too bad that Bly himself is so full of hyperbole and marketing rhetoric. Have you read his early editorial pieces? He’s not the best defender for good writing. As readers we need to learn how to spot pseudo- journalism as well as pseudo-science. We need more mags like Seed; they would help us be more literate and more critical.

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