Major newspaper opts for science blogging

By Grant Jacobs 01/09/2010

British newspaper, the Guardian, already home to the column of Bad Science writer Ben Goldacre, has gathered a small but very good collection of science bloggers to present as Guardian Science Blogs.

Stromatolites from Bolivia (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)
Stromatolites from Bolivia (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

The science-writing internet has seen a lot of developments this year. It’s promising to see a major newspaper like the Guardian take this on.

Initially the Guardian have four blogs:

  • Punctuated equilibrium, by GrrlScientist (who also writes at several locations elsewhere). Her introductory post features her parrot, Orpheus reading, no make that eating, the Guardian. Good recycling, I suppose. (Great photo, too, well worth checking out.)
  • Political science, by Evan Harris (a former British MP), who has started out with some pretty hard-hitting stuff on MMR and religion v. science in teaching in schools. Interesting – and good! – to see a politician in the science-writing fray.
  • The Lay Scientist, by Martin Robbins, who might be familiar from those who followed Simon Singh’s case, who writes with skepticism about pretty whatever is the latest issue. (Sadly, there is always more to put right… On the bright side, this makes for more entertainment, too.)
  • Particle Physics, by Jon Butterworth, Professor of Physics at UCL who will no doubt bring some professorial clout to physics blogging, entertainingly too.

The Guardian are also offering a very promising line-up of guest articles, in a fifth blog that draws on from science bloggers around the world. Their initial line-up for this looks exciting. I spot at least one Pulitzer Prize winner in there; all of the people they list write very well, as you might expect. In some ways I’m looking forward to these more than the regular bloggers. Is that weird of me? You can read about these in Alok Jha’s article introducing the Guardian science blogs. His article closes quoting Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, which I’d like to repeat here:

We are edging away from the binary sterility of the debate between mainstream media and new forms which were supposed to replace us. We feel as if we are edging towards a new world in which we bring important things to the table — editing; reporting; areas of expertise; access; a title, or brand, that people trust; ethical professional standards and an extremely large community of readers. The members of that community could not hope to aspire to anything like that audience or reach on their own; they bring us a rich diversity, specialist expertise and on the ground reporting that we couldn’t possibly hope to achieve without including them in what we do.

Other major newspaper and magazines do have science sections, but few have a dedicated science blogging initiative, and the philosophy behind this is interesting. (My initial impression is that they are not editing these blog posts, however. It’s possible that might change?)

Locally, The Listener magazine has recently added a fortnightly science section, and we have our own much more modest newspaper development of a guest post in the Herald Online, where selected articles (up to one per day) are reposted on their site.

Other articles on Code for life:

Who blogs on what, and why

Aww, crap.

Friday picture: molecular modelling of the cytoplasm

Molecular biology in museums

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