Editing experts: How to help scientists meet journalism standards
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Tue Oct 5, 2021
Live Stream: Join stream
Recorded Video: Watch video
Platform: Zoom Webinar NASW Professional Development Session Video


This workshop is for science writers and journalists interested in editing expert authors. More journalism outlets are inviting scientists to write commentaries, and paying editors to commission and hone drafts. Yet the effort to bring expert analysis to a broader audience can create a clash between scientific and journalistic expertise: researchers often have little experience writing clearly and accurately for the public. In many cases, experts are not used to being edited and are profoundly uncomfortable drawing on personal, relatable experiences or writing in simple, declarative sentences. Too often submissions have unchecked assertions, uncertain relevance, and inaccessible prose.

This panel will show how to apply journalistic craft for narrative, relevance, accuracy, and clarity to make sure readers benefit from expertise in content and communication. Participants will learn from editors who work for independent publications or institutional press offices on expert-authored pieces. Panelists will turn their experiences into case studies, helpful tips, and practical solutions to help non-writers create compelling articles.

- How can editors set expectations when commissioning?

- How can editors manage conflicts of interest, such as working with former or potential sources?

- What do you do when the draft you receive is not the piece you assigned, or when you spot egregious errors or plagiarism?

- How much should you explain your edits? How many times can you send something back for revision?

- When is it time to ghostwrite?

- What do you do when an author (or their boss) gets cold feet, and the draft is already with the copyeditors?

Monya Baker Senior World View and Comment Editor, Nature
Hannah Hoag Deputy Editor and Environment + Energy Editor, The Conversation Canada

Michael Lemonick Chief Opinion Editor, Scientific American
Tamara Poles Community Engagement Specialist, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
Fenella Saunders Editor-in-Chief, American Scientist

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