"Science writing offers some wonderful adventures," notes Patrick Young, a former editor of Science News. "I've visited the South pole, stared into a steaming volcano, covered the first human landing on the moon, and dived with an underwater archaeology team investigating an old fur trade route." But as Young readily admits, science writing is, above all, an adventure of the mind. It is in fact probably the most fascinating beat in journalism, spanning everything from new advances in cancer treatment and the depletion of the ozone layer, to dinosaurs, black holes in space, human evolution, animal behavior, and much more besides. What science writers ultimately cover--and convey to the reading public--is the forefront of human knowledge, the leading edge of our understanding of the universe and of ourselves. Now, in A Field Guide for Science Writers, the official guide of the National Association of Science Writers, budding journalists and veteran reporters have a superb roadmap to this exciting area of journalism. Here some three dozen of the best known science writers in America share their hard-earned knowledge on how they do their job. Boyce Rensberger describes how he covers stories for the Washington Post; two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and New York Times reporter John Noble Wilford outlines the pitfalls and rewards of writing full-length books on scientific topics; NPR's Ira Flatow tells how radio pieces combine ambient sounds, music, voices, and facts to create a mental picture and evoke the feeling of "being there"; and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, author of the best-selling The Coming Plague, discusses how to cover, and survive, a deadly epidemic. Each article brims with detailed, nuts-and-bolts information. For instance, Mary Knudson prints a section of a piece she has published, and then explains point by point how she researched every detail. Victor Cohn provides six tests to help reporters discern between probable facts and probable trash. And Sandra Blakeslee, a freelance writer who reports regularly for the New York Times, discusses covering the field of neuroscience: what you should know, which books give you a good background knowledge, which courses might help, which meetings to attend, which journals to read. In addition, readers will learn how newspaper writing differs from magazine stories, books, and science journals; how to tell a good story, use sources, do investigative reporting, write a solid but interesting op-ed piece or science column; how to translate a highly technical journal article; how to pitch ideas to magazine editors; and how to find ideas. Finally, a superb appendix offers a goldmine of resources for science writers, including both general sources of information as well as sources in fields such as anthropology, earth sciences, the environment, health and medicine, and technology. A Field Guide for Science Writers gathers together insights and tips, personal stories and lessons of some of America's best-known science writers, men and women who work for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Time Magazine, Science, Science News, National Public Radio, and other eminent news outlets. Filled with wonderful anecdotes and down-to-earth, practical information, it is both illuminating and a pleasure to read. If you want to be a science writer, this book will be your bible.
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