Best Practices: Covering Science in Cyberspace

March 11, 2007 - March 14, 2007
Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California

About | Agenda | Speakers | Fellows | Resources | Blog


March 11, 2007, 3:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Welcome Reception

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, 533 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles

March 11, 2007, 4:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Opening Dinner and Keynote Address

Welcome and introductions.

  • Vikki Porter, Director, Knight Digital Media Center, USC Annenberg School for Communication
  • K.C. Cole, Visiting Professor/Science Journalism, USC Annenberg School of Journalism
  • Michael Parks, Director, USC Annenberg School of Journalism

Conference plans

  • Vikki Porter

Keynote address - “When Science and Policy Converge”

Presentation by:

  • Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief, Science Magazine, and president emeritus, Stanford University
Link: “Weird Science: Why editors must dare to be dumb.” by K.C. Cole (CJR)
Link: “Communicating Science,” FACSNET
Link: “Framing Science” blogged by Matthew C. Nisbet, Scienceblogs by Seed Media Group
Link: “Helter Skelter No More: An Evolving Guidebook for Online Ethics,” The Poynter Institute

March 12, 2007, 6:00 AM - 7:30 AM

What is Science, Anyway?

(And why do journalists have such a hard time getting editors and gatekeepers to understand it?)

What constitutes a discovery?  What does “wrong” mean - or “true”?  Dealing with uncertainty.

Opening discussants:
• Michael Lemonick, freelance journalist, writer “Eye on Science” blog,
• Alexandra Witze, Senior News and Features Editor, Nature

Presentation by:

  • Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief, Science Magazine, and president emeritus, Stanford University
PowerPoint: What is science, anyway?

March 12, 2007, 7:45 AM - 9:15 AM

The Landscape:  Science Online

If 40 million Americans get their science information online, what are the implications for science journalists and news organizations focused on science?  When science stories run on page one of newspapers, or get play on TV or radio, there is at least a chance that a non-science reader will be intrigued (not to mentioned informed).  The transition to online has meant that readers (listeners, etc.) must go out and search for science.  How do we get out of the box and bring back serendipity?

Presentation by:

  • John B. Horrigan, associate research director, Pew Internet & American Life Project
  • Rob Semper, executive associate director, San Francisco Exploratorium
PDF: “The Internet and Science News and Information,” Pew Internet & American Life Project
PowerPoint: Science News & Information: The Internet Challenge

March 12, 2007, 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM

Science Journalism in the Balance

The problem of “balance” in science journalism.  Covering controversies.

Opening discussants:
• Cristine Russell, President, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing
• Tom Siegfried, freelance science journalist and member, Board of Directors, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing
• Joe Palca, Science Correspondent, National Public Radio

PowerPoint: Science Journalism in the Balance (Cris Russell)
PDF: Covering Controversial Science, by Cristine Russell

March 12, 2007, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Invisible Issues in Science:  Barbarians at the Gate

More and more science “news” is coming at us pre-filtered, selected by people who really don’t understand science.  This situation inevitably results in more dumbed-down (and dumb) science journalism. The role of gatekeepers.

Opening discussants:
  Charles Petit, MIT Knight Science Journalism Tracker
  Dan Vergano, science writer, USA Today

Presentation by:

  • Adam Frank, professor of astrophysics, University of Rochester

March 13, 2007, 6:00 AM - 8:00 AM

The New Tools: Story-telling Online

Given the discussions of the previous day, we overlay how science journalists can and should approach this complex discipline online.  Story forms, use of audio, video, graphics, USG content/interaction.

Opening discussants:
• Daniel Grossman, AAAS award-winning journalist
• Vikki Valentine, Science Web Producer, National Public Radio
• Alan Boyle, Science Editor,
• Sarah Graham, Science Web Producer,

Presentation by:

  • Alfred Hermida, assistant professor, School of Journalism, University of British Columbia

March 13, 2007, 8:15 AM - 9:45 AM

Visual Science Journalism

Opening discussants:
• Rebecca Perry, professional graphic artist and visual journalist
• Larry Gonick, science cartoonist, Larry Gonick Studio
• Rosalind Reid, Editor, American Scientist magazine

March 13, 2007, 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Break-out Groups

Teams identify complex, controversial issues and brainstorm how to best cover them online.  Teams are encouraged to use online tools or other materials to demonstrate how the topics could be presented in compelling and innovative forms.

PDF: Tech Tools for Your Presentation

March 14, 2007, 6:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Team Reports

Teams present their ideas for innovative online coverage of controversial or complex topics.

March 14, 2007, 8:15 AM - 9:15 AM

Best Practices:  What have we learned?

Can we define best practices?  How do we keep judgment and expertise in science journalism as it moves to cyberspace?  Are there protocols that we can provide as guidelines for other journalists?

March 14, 2007, 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Closing Lunch

What can we take home from the last two days?  How can it be realistically applied?  Outlook for the future.  Next steps.


All fields required.


[email protected] is now offering customized digital strategies training for news organizations that is designed to help leaders create versatile, innovative and collaborative cultures for the 21st Century. For more information please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Leadership 3.0 Blog



Upcoming Seminars