Fix can mean to repair or to gimmick, as in 'the fix is in'.  I'm not going to tell you how to repair science journalism.  A few wingnuts stalwarts here at Science 2.0 beat that to death.  Their suggestions include sack the journalists, and also rehire journalists.  Be like ESPN.  Be ISO9000 (say what you'll do then do what you say).  Possibly, don't fix it.

I will tell you how to gimmick science journalism.  Remember, science is about asking the right questions, and there are divergent questions implicit in 'fixing science journalism'.  The first is about how and where people want to read science, the second is whether society needs science communicated, and the third question is about who should communicate science.

I'm going to tackle the fourth question-- how to get noticed doing science journalism.

First, accept editors are gone and communication is now direct to readers.  Used to be you only had to sell to one person-- an editor.  As a writer, that was sufficient, you got paid.  It was the editor's job to market the hell out it and justify the expense.  Now, you have to get the readers yourself.

You can rely on being catchy, you can use profanity, you can attempt humor.  You can join a larger team and hope to get readers by proxy.  You can cherry-pick 'topical' items.  Or you can focus on a niche and be the best and smartest (but that's haaaaaard!)

Once you're writing, how do you apply journalistic accuracy?  You don't.  The worst thing you can do is be both thorough and accurate, because you will get zero comments.  No comments means everyone reading it thinks you have no readers, and since you're unpopular, people go away.

Basically, if you're right, you don't get followups.  People mostly comment if they catch an error or disagree.

why did he insert an image of the Riddler here?

The measure of 'accuracy' shifts from the writer's burden to the feedback posts-- not just "i agree", but an indirect measure of 'cluefulness'.  Which is more likely a good article, assuming both are titled "Universe Bound By Electricy?"
[comment]: Nice writeup, but I think the first GEOS launched 1 year earlier than you say.
[comment]: I agree.  I also think the conventional media tends to surpress this.
Note that even though the 1st article has more _criticism_, the underlying feel is that it's a more rigorous article.  The second comment is just a 'me too' with a wiff of 'conspiracy nut'.  So the first-- pointing out an error-- actually establishes higher credibility for your article.

'Community leaders' can act as additional 'marks of quality' (authenticity?), by posting positive links or putting feedback on worthwhile columns.  Now, add into this 'pedigree', which is a stronger presumed article?
[comment by 'moon nut']: I agree.  I also think the conventional media tends to surpress this.
[comment by Neil Tyson deGrassi]: I agree.  I also think the conventional media tends to surpress this.
Finally, you can both boost your value and assess your value with yet another version of pedigree-- Links.  Who links back to your article is a good measure of its value (heck, that's Google's PageRank in a way).  For example, arriving at links from suggestions a higher likely quality than one from 'viagranow'.

I am fortunate enough that I both lack an editor, and lack the patience to do more than a second draft for most of these blogs.  Therefore, I do not have to rely on artificially inserting errors, I let the organic process called 'no editorial oversight' do that for me.  Unfortunately, as a scientist by training, I tend to be both thorough and accurate, so I suspect my 'error bait' is insufficient to generate comments.  This is a burden I must carry, but it need not be your burden.  Do as I say, not as a I do.  Do be do be do.

But now that you have my secrets of modern science writing, you need to raise one more curtain hiding the wizard of mixed metaphors on this apocryphal Oz of scientific journalism. Remember I said you have to ask the right questions?

The true question to ask is, how can one get paid to do science journalism?  As it happens, there are six avenues (of which four have worked for me), and I will happily relate method #6 for you right now.  Just email me $20 first...


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