The difference between science writing and science journalism.
Whenever a science story breaks, you can be sure you’ll read about it in more than one place. Different writers will have their different take on the “paper du jour” and for the most part there’s nothing wrong in that.
Recently, a story broke about evolution and the jump from single to multicellular organisms. All the major places covered it. They all had their take. Funnily enough, the story itself was scrutinised by other experts in the field, wondering on the merits of the original paper. And just as sure that night follows day, a twitter debate ensued.
One thing jumped out at me as I read the different versions of the same piece. There is a difference between science journalism and science writing. Personally, I’m drawn more to science writing pieces as they, on the surface, seem more informed and seem to be more about the one paper that was released. Science writing, to me, has context. The difference between an Op-ed piece and general news.
Freelancers and those starting out in the science “communication” game often have a hard time pitching stories to the major outlets as all the good stories are already taken. Editors have a staff and a list of freelancers that will be their first call to cover a story. As a freelancer its probably more prudent to pitch the stories no one else is writing about, or the unique take on a story everyone else is writing about. This in itself is a double edged sword as the stories no one else is writing about is probably not of interest to your editor. A nice Catch22 to have that will proabably ultimately make you a better writer for it.
And as I write this TheOpenNotebook has a piece on writers looking to make the move from news to features.