How deep is science writing these days? Pretty darn deep.
Way back when Science 2.0 started there were not a lot of great science writers. There were well-known ones, but not great ones. Journalism was in flux and mainstream media didn't respect it much, and scientists respected science journalism even less than media corporations did. The best writers just didn't go into science journalism. One of the reasons that a pillar of the Science 2.0 mission was revamping science 'communication' was because the public had stopped respecting journalists and scientists felt like they got a lot of things wrong. If science journalism couldn't win Pulitzer Prizes, at least it could be accurate and that meant making scientists the journalists.
Credit: Shutterstock via Real Clear Science
The world has changed a lot. Now quality science writing is everywhere.
Today, lots of sites cover science, there is so much that some sites exist just to curate it. One such group is the Real Clear family, with sites devoted to Politics, Science, and lots of other topics. Because they do nothing but curate the best content for their audience, their success relies on people clicking articles - they exist to send their audience somewhere else. That means they have to pick the best stuff.
So Real Clear Science is in a unique position because they can truly determine what the audience likes, without the suspect methodology of a survey or some hand-picked committee and its bias for publications they have heard of. Their Best Science Writers of 2014 leverages that insight.
Livescience was our first media partner, way back when they were Imaginova, they loved our work and we loved theirs. Now they are part of a giant digital juggernaut but it retains that fun popular science feel. Yet they are not winning any institutional awards for quality writing - however, on this list, two people get the nod. Nature gets included - most people don't think of journalism when it comes to Nature, they think of studies - along with Vox, Pacific Standard and The Atlantic and more. None of those would be on the list of great science writing if you polled the echo chamber in legacy science journalism.
The number one pick? It isn't me, though I am honored to be on the list. It also isn't a surprise to science writers, but it may be to the audience. That's the beauty of using audience response as a metric, it showcases a lot of writers who ordinarily wouldn't get noticed. Anyway, you should check out the whole list. I had seen a lot of the work of the writers selected but had never put names to faces or brands.
The only sad part about this? People who work for Real Clear have to recuse themselves from consideration. Both Steven Ross Pomeroy and Alex Berezow at Real Clear Science tackle complex topics and make them a lot of fun when they put pen to paper.
10 BEST SCIENCE WRITERS OF 2014 - Real Clear Science editorial board