Scientist and blogger Miriam Goldstein writes a “field guide” to help outsiders understand the behaviors of journalists and scientists in the wild – “two species that inhabit the same ecosystem, but have very different behaviors.” Some excerpts:
“I have spent many years carefully observing both of these species in their natural habitats, and have compiled this guide for the use of anyone interested in understanding their social structures.
…Many scientists actively avoid the company of journalists. They or their colleagues may have experienced predatory or parasitic journalistic behavior in the past, or perceive standard journalistic behavior (such as an undue interest in squid) as rather crass.
…The journalist is a cosmopolitan species, but is under intense threat in many locales due to habitat destruction. The most intact remaining journalistic habitats are a few major metropolitan areas and the Internet.
…Scientists wishing to talk to journalists are encouraged to do so, as the survival of much scientific work depends on the public funds. Scientists should practice talking about their work to the domesticated journalists present in many universities (Public Relations Officers), who can help craft understandable and accurate messages to prepare for contact with free-range journalists in the wild.”
Her amusing post was sparked by a more serious running debate about whether journalists should allow scientists to fact-check their articles prior to publication.