Guardian Blogger Spoofs Science Journalism
Seitz, Jonathan, Nieman Reports
Prompted by dismay at the dearth of evidence-based policymaking, Martin Robbins, a researcher and science writer, created a community blog called The Lay Scientist. This fall The Guardian hired him to be one of its four science bloggers. It didn't take long for a post he wrote--with the headline "This is a news website article about a scientific paper"--to go viral.
In it, he satirized what he sees as the too-frequently formulaic approach to reporting on scientific discoveries in which journalists fail to provide informed guidance as part of their coverage. Robbins used the BBC as his example of science coverage being done with "robotic impartiality," with headlines written in ways that are designed to "distance themselves [the journalists] from the words inside."
Here is how Robbins began his post:
In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of "scare quotes" to ensure that it's clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.
His commentary-as-spoof struck a chord with other bloggers and became The Guardian's most read story that week. But rather than stop at writing this cheeky send-up of science writing, Robbins returned the following week with constructive criticism. …