‘DIY’ Journalism for Scientists through Scientific Podcasting

 

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ResClim members participated in a 4-day podcast workshop.

 

Everyone waited for radio broadcasting to crumble, but then something incredible happened.

It reemerged.

It took on forms in unimaginable ways: Through sites like Pandora, listeners started to create their own playlist radiostations. Drivers began to tune into international radio via satellite, like the North American Serius XM. Another form appeared with flying colors: The Podcast. Many have heard professional productions, e.g. Serial or Ted Radio Hour. Podcasting is not only becoming more individualized but is also coming from individuals.

In this ever-changing digital age, it seems that we have hit some sort of storytelling renaissance, even a golden age of ‘do and share-it-yourself’ journalism.

In the science community, the mass media and journals used to be the primary source of articles and news features; journals produced technical, potentially dry manuscripts, while mass media reduced and skewed scientific theory for efficiency or particular interests.

Now, scientists can speak directly to multi-tiered audiences, with more assurance that their own words come to life, circulate, and inform the masses.

In general, this ‘do and share-it-yourself’ media induces some other positive side effects. For one thing, it serves as a creative outlet away from all of the hustle and bustle of intensive research. It promotes your science projects in ways you never believed. Moreover, it greatly improves a scientist’s communication skills, a facet of science that normally screams ‘boring! overly technical! irrelevant!’.

Whether you fancy it or not, it’s happening, and SciSnack is not just jumping on the bandwagon, but is paving the way with full force: first with catchy science articles and now with podcasting.

In mid-April, ResClim and UiB hosted the second Podcast Workshop connected to SciSnack, right here in Bergen, Norway. Mathew Stiller-Reeve eloquently described the ongoing power of this tool after the first ClimateSnack/SciSnack podcasting workshop in 2014. Mathew wrote‘in much the same way as photographs can spark our imagination, sounds can transport our thoughts to different locations, conjure up different feelings, or simply hold our attention.’

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Lecturer, Jack Soper

Lecturer Jack Soper, an award-winning BBC producer, led our workshop group to produce just those very effects through unique and professional full-fledged scientific podcasts. Here are some styles of pods we produced: a discussion group, a vox-pop interview, and a scientific monologue. Who knew how much creative journalistic juice could seep out of a group of climate scientists?

Rewind…What led this group to bring out their inner scientific journalist? All of us brought our captivating science story; we just needed to muster some fundamental media tools to allow our stories to ‘lift off the page’, in the words of Mr. Soper. Soper enthusiastically divulged to our group the secrets of producing such a masterpiece.

The week was split into interactive lectures and hands-on workshop time. Soper supplemented each of his lessons with proper examples from expert producers, e.g. BBC and NPR to name a few. On the technical side, we learned how to record, mix, and edit. This included tutorials on recording locations, equipment decisions, and audio editing software.

On the editorial side, we learned how to ‘write script for the ear’, conduct interviews, and know our audience. Then, to combine the technical and editorial skills, we illustrated our recordings with complementary music or sound effects. Aside from that, Soper introduced us to the world of MOJO, media branding, and ways to disseminate our scientific audio stories.

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Shifted gears with a crash course on Soper’s new favorite obsession: MOJO, Mobile Journalism.

We arrived with curiosity and left with a finished product. Aside from that, we brought home all of the tools we needed to launch our own scientific podcasts with some extra room to grow in all sorts of creative directions. I have no doubt that our participants will trigger some momentum in this newfound science media in the greater climate research community.

 


 

Thank you SciSnack, ResClim, and UiB for this outstanding opportunity!  Stay tuned on SciSnack.com for podcasts from our participants!

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Ashley is currently a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S. - Norway Student Fulbright Program with the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, based in Bergen, Hordaland, Norway. Her fellowship is centered around the Ice2Ice Project project, studying the effects of arctic sea ice melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet. She is a research assistant for the marine sediment team, focused on empirical data. Ashley is a 2014 graduate of Bates College, where she received a Bachelor's degree in Geology and German.
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