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Turning science into news

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Tips on translating a background in the sciences into a media job from Career Advisory Council Member Jennifer Lloyd

Author: Jennifer R. Lloyd, San Antonio Express-News reporter | Category: Career Development | August 12, 2014

In the journalism industry, English and communication majors abound. Those with a background in science are a rare commodity indeed. Graduates with a gift for translating dense research studies into the vocabulary of the average 9th grade student will truly stand out among other applicants for a science or health journalism position at news media outlets.

Those writing for specialty outlets that target industry professionals can convey information at a higher level of understanding.

However, landing a journalism job almost always requires presenting a portfolio of published stories or “clips” along with a resume. Budding science journalists will likely need to find an internship (sadly, many are unpaid) with a media organization. Alternatives include hunting down freelance opportunities.

On the upside, online news sites and publications funded by foundations provide opportunities beyond the traditional newspaper or TV station for would-be reporters to accrue published samples.

Creating and maintaining a blog and building a social media presence can also help convince media employers that you have the chops to convey complex material from the lab to the masses.

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and the Association of Health Care Journalists can give you a feel for the industry and a place to start networking.

Science and health journalism is a unique opportunity to help the public better understand their bodies, other human beings and their environment. Good luck!

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