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Liza Gross is a freelance journalist, senior editor at the journal PLOS Biology, contributor to Environmental Health News and KQED Science blogger. She writes mostly about wildlife, ecology and environmental health. Her stories—which have taken her to the Pyrenees, the quirky town of Haines, Alaska, and California’s poverty-stricken Central Valley—reflect a lifelong fascination with the natural world and our place in it. She’s written for diverse outlets, including Scientific American, Slate, San Francisco Chronicle, Sierra, High Country News and Washington Post. Her story Don't Jump! for Slate won the 2014 ASJA award for op-ed. No beba el agua, part of EHN's Pollution, Poverty, People of Color series, received Honorable Mention from the 2013 Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.

7 responses to “On “scientific” journalism: An interview with Peter Aldhous”

  1. Julie Rehmeyer

    The big question in my mind is, how can a freelancer afford to do this? It seems like it requires an enormous up-front investment of time and thought, and you don’t know whether you’ll get a story out of it at all, and even if you do, it seems like it would be very hard to get paid at a rate that would compensate your time. This, of course, is a problem not just with data-driven journalism but most forms of investigative journalism. I’d love to hear any thoughts from Peter about this.

  2. Peter Aldhoud

    Hi Julie,

    Yes, time and resources are issues, but you can start small and build from there. IRE has some tipsheets that may help (https://ire.org/resource-center/tipsheets/?q=small%20budget, requires membership to download), although mostly tailored to small newsrooms, rather than the freelance setting.

    I’m no longer on the staff of a publication, but I am fortunate to have a freelance contract with MATTER, which wants to promote this sort of journalism.

    They are rare beasts, but there some editors are willing to pay higher freelance rates for stories that involve a data component. Eric Hand at Nature may be worth speaking to. And also the editors at Science, I suspect.

    Clearly this stuff is easier if you have some sort of track record, so there may be an element of Catch 22. But I do think the “data state of mind” is the most important thing.

    Best wishes,

    Peter

  3. Julie Rehmeyer

    Thanks, Liza and Peter.

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