What ecological niche does a site like this occupy in the world of science journalism? Nature this week has an editorial ("Critical Journalism", subscription required) about the fact that coverage of science and technology news has declined in print and television news, from about 4%-6% of total news in 2001 to about 2% now.

It is disappointing that science coverage is shrinking at a time when a scientifically informed public is probably more important than ever; however, Nature does point out that many people are turning to online resources for their science news. If this is true, it could mean that people are looking for deeper science coverage than you typically find on CNN or your local paper: online you can follow links to other resources and more easily look up references to terms, which may make reading science online more fruitful for some people.

The Nature editors make an interesting comment about where they think future opportunities for science communications lie:
As the media industry moves online, some shakeout is inevitable. Straight news is becoming a commodity, which will be dominated by fewer players. Independent science desks and media can have a future in this environment, but only if they move up the food chain and provide proactive, deeper, must-read analyses instead of me-too articles reacting to the latest press releases.
I'm not a journalist, nor are most of the writers on this site, but a place like this fills a similar role: what you can get here, hopefully, is insight by working scientists (and journalists - we do have some) into what the latest research is really telling us. Press releases written by universities or authors of papers can help readers keep abreast of what is coming out in the professional journals, but they will obviously give you the rosiest spin on the research.

The scientists writing here can tell you whether these latest research papers are significant or even right, and they can give you some long-term perspective - which is absolutely critical, because the most important developments in science usually occur over time, and not in a single, revolutionary paper.

Science coverage may be going down in most of the typical news outlets, but online forums for science coverage provide a new opportunity for science writers to publish "must-read analyses," and for the science-reading public to intelligently keep on top of a fast-moving, important part of our society.

For more, read the Pew Research Center's State of the News Media 2008.