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Liza Gross is an independent investigative journalist, senior editor at the journal PLOS Biology, and reporter for the Food and Environment Reporting Network. Her investigations — which have examined issues including unchecked violence in psychiatric hospitals, industry bias in “sound science ” groups, vaping advocates’ hidden ties to the tobacco industry and more — have received national awards and recognition in the 2016 Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology. She’s written for diverse outlets, including The New York Times, Discover, The Intercept, The Nation and The Washington Post.

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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