Reporting on Science in South America: International Coverage Is Good, While Local Research Often Isn't Well Covered. (Science Journalism)

By Leite, Marcelo | Nieman Reports, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Reporting on Science in South America: International Coverage Is Good, While Local Research Often Isn't Well Covered. (Science Journalism)


Leite, Marcelo, Nieman Reports


This year two major events suggest a coming of age for South American science journalism and for its achieving international quality standards. In November, the Third World Conference of Science Journalists will take place in Brazil. And earlier in the year, two Latino editions of the most traditional U.S. science magazine, Scientific American, were launched: Scientific American Latinoamerica is published in Spanish, printed in Mexico, and distributed in countries such as Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia; and Scientific American Brasil, written in Portuguese, is now available in Brazil.

What we might conclude from all that is happening is that there is widespread demand in South America for news and information about science and enough expertise in science journalism to provide it, as well. However, this is not quite the case. Here's why.

Currently, the Latino editions of Scientific American are hiring almost as many translators as journalists, if not more. (It is true, however, that the Brazilian publisher, Alfredo Nastari, has promised to fill the news hole with 5070 percent domestically researched stories.) The fact is that the science writing jobs on this continent are few and vanishing, and this means that young journalists do not have the incentive to choose the science beat and to put in the many extra hours of classes and readings required for such specialization.

A typical science desk of a South American daily newspaper employs two to five journalists, although two is more typical than five. At my newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo in Brazil, I am the editor, and I have an assistant editor and one reporter, down from three reporters in March 2000. This reduction in reporters is a result of cost-cutting forced by the continuing economic crisis in Brazil. Nevertheless, our small team remains responsible for covering the natural sciences and putting together a daily page (up to 50 percent of which might be taken by advertisement) in the first section, just after the op-ed, national and international affairs--a very prominent location in a Brazilian newspaper.

La Tercera in Chile, for example, relies on a staff of five science journalists. However, at that paper, these journalists might also report on such subjects as health, computers, environment and society. This mixture of expected expertise pushes them dangerously close to the broad category SMEERSH (science, medicine, energy, environment, research, and all sorts of other sh--.), so named by Dorothy Nelkin in her 1987 book, "Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and Technology." One can hardly speak of specialization under such circumstances.

South American science journalists struggle hard to improve their background in natural sciences, but few opportunities are readily available. What makes this difficult is that in many South American nations (including Brazil and Chile), journalists are required by law to study journalism before going into the profession. Those who major in natural sciences and have a gift for writing are not allowed to join news staffs, and specialization courses are seldom available. In Brazil, it wasn't until 1999 that the Sao Paulo State University of Campinas (Unicamp) introduced a pioneering course of study in science journalism at the graduate level.

Often, South American science journalists in search of specialization go to a foreign country to study. I took this route twice in the past 13 years. In 1989, I went to Germany with a fellowship from the Krupp Foundation for internships in science media outlets such as Bild der Wissenschaft and Kosmos. In 1997-98, I went to Harvard as a Knight Latin American Nieman Fellow. Less than two years later I was lucky enough to get a mini-fellowship from the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT to attend a very productive one-week Genes & Cells Boot Camp put together by Boyce Rensberger. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reporting on Science in South America: International Coverage Is Good, While Local Research Often Isn't Well Covered. (Science Journalism)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.