This 10-week summer program places science, engineering, and mathematics students at media organizations nationwide. Fellows use their academic training as they research, write, and report today’s headlines, sharpening their abilities to communicate complex scientific issues to the public.
Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows Program: The Results
The program’s impact extends beyond the 10 weeks Fellows spend at their summer sites. Some program alumni have been encouraged by their Fellowship experiences to pursue careers related to science journalism. Others, working as scientists or engineers, become more adept at describing scientific concepts to reporters who call their institutions for information. Still others hire on as freelancers, or have otherwise incorporated new activities related to public understanding of science into their academic or professional work in science and engineering.
“This fellowship experience was perhaps most valuable to me because it gave me a renewed love of science, adding inspiration to both my own research as well as my interest in communicating science to others. I was able to take my own experiences as a neuroscience graduate student and share them with the magazine’s staff members and other Fellows. I didn’t realize fully how much I, as a researcher, could contribute to non-scientists’ understanding of the scientific process until I began discussing my work with others and putting my skills as a researcher into journalism.”
Nicole Garbarini – Scientific American (2004)
“One of my favorite activities was attending the daily news meetings at NPR where the various departments meet to coordinate news coverage. It was fascinating to see how they decided what to broadcast. In deciding what listeners would and would not hear, the NPR team was determining what the news really was – a tremendous responsibility.”
Julie Rosenthal – NPR (2004)
“While (fact checking an article) I uncovered information that challenged the credibility of sources on which the article was based. …The features editor made a call to scrap the original story. She suggested that I write it and gave me three days and 360 words to do it in. This, my most important experience at Popular Science, was at once a valuable lesson in journalistic ethics and integrity.”
Tahalia Barrett, Popular Science (2003)
“The most important skill I gained (during the fellowship) was learning how to write technical stories for a broad readership. By the end of the summer, I felt like my stories talked more with readers than to readers. And I hope these readers were able to learn as much from my articles as I learned from the entire process.”
David Grimm, US News & World Report (2003)
“The most important thing that I did during my summer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (was) to discover for myself why science reporting is important. Before I started my fellowship, I obviously thought science writing was important, but mostly because that’s what I wanted to read. Once I was at the Post, I realized that science isn’t in the newspaper for scientists… Science is in the newspaper because the public needs to know about it.”
Angela Vierling, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (2003)