The DC Science Writer’s Association professional development day was this Saturday. It was an inspiring day with lots of food for thought! Storytelling was definitely a theme in several sessions, as was the notion of “selling” your story, whether it’s to an editor, to your dedicated audience or to an unknown population of readers. It also featured multiple rants against adjectives and adverbs in favor of stronger nouns and verbs, and at least two uses of the word verisimilitude.
The chance to reflect on writing, on being a journalist, on career development, on communicating science comes all to infrequently. But when it does, I’m always inspired to check out the dozens of articles, websites, apps, programs and books I hear about and figure out how I can use them to enhance what I do and how I do it.
And somehow the time to actually do that never materializes.
So, while it’s all still fresh in my mind, and while I’m casually keeping an eye on the sanctity of my NCAA bracket, I thought I’d throw together a reading list (a periodic habit …) of some of the stuff I jotted down at the meeting. And then, of course, share it on the Internet. I hope it’s useful! Feel free to shout out other resources/articles/apps/etc. you heard about.
First off, congratulations to all the DCSWA newsbrief award winners!
- Matt Davenport and Elaine Seward of the American Chemical Society wond for their video, “Why fruit flies could make your beer better.”
- An honorable mention went to our own Beth Mole at Science News for “Kangaroo gut microbes make eco-friendly farts.”
- And Mark Zastrow also picked up an honorable mention for his video, “The pattern in nature’s networks.”
Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post was the first plenary speaker – so much good advice! Alas, rounding up his advice is not the point of this post. Onward to the links:
- Latest book: A Hole at the bottom of the Sea
- His gravity wave story
- “Chicken from Hell” story (a chance to ask what it would have tasted like – a lesson in not shying away from the “dumb” question)
- His 1994 story on what the president keeps in his pockets
- Achenbach interviews John McPhee (H/T Carmen Drahl)
- Food for thought: “Good science writing should go all out on the uncertainty because good science dances on the edge of the unknowable.”
Session: Secrets from Skillful Storytellers
(two-thirds of the way through the session I managed to delete my notes on this session, so it’s a bit thin.)
- His article on George Smoot
- Passage Panek read in the session on Vera Rubin: on p. 30 (searchable on Amazon – search Rubin pregnant library)
Liz Szabo, USA Today
- Her investigative piece on Stanislaw Burzynski
- Advice on interviewing by Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Eric Nalder
- Liz suggests reading this story from Dan Vergano as an example of good storytelling
Christopher Joyce, NPR
- His piece on the slithering rocks in Death Valley
- Piece on bumps on alligators’ faces
- Report IT – great app (free!) for capturing high-quality audio from sources
Lauren Wolf and Adam Dylewski of Chemical & Engineering News/American Chemical Society
- Two series: Speaking of Chemistry and Reactions
- Lauren showed a video on microbeads as an example. Adam showed their video on poison ivy.
- They use a website called Wipster to get feedback, comments, edit suggestions, etc. on videos
- Web based animation apps for nonanimators: Powtoon, GoAnimate, Moovly
- Stock images: pond5, shurtterstock, video blocks.
Sean Kelley, now an animator for NIST
- Sean works mainly in Blender – he’s a Blender enthusiast! Many awesome demos.
- His roundup of links and resources
- Some animations he showed:
Adam Cole – producer at NPR
Examples he showed:
- How spiders tune into their web
- Someone asked about blackboard types of videos. Examples: RSA Animate, AsapSCIENCE (3.7 million subscribers), Minute Earth (1 million subscribers)
I’m sure there was much much more! Feel free to shout out any resources/books/links/apps/etc. that you heard about at DCSWA PDD. thanks!