Hunting for the story… in a research lab.
Posted September 5, 2012
“Find the story. Make the reader care.” As a fourth year journalism student, I’m familiar with this journalist’s mantra. I’ve written articles that have a myriad of personal, emotional stories, where it had been easy to keep the reader interested. Other topics do not simply lure in readers. Science can be a reflective topic, especially when it’s sprinkled with jargon, data and research procedures. However, I’m excited to work in a lab and find the story within the research: to be the translator.
I’m not a scientist, so I’m glad I’ll have a “translator” of my own. I can’t help produce multimedia or articles in plain language if I don’t understand what happens in the lab myself. When I work with my partner, Mackenzie Callaway, on future SciXchange projects, it will be exciting to have an exchange of ideas. I can share what I know about video or sound editing and my partner can share what she knows about her research. I realize now that information’s package is just as important as the information itself. If my partner and I can’t make her research understandable and maybe a bit entertaining, then the average person will never know about it, no matter how important the research is.
I’ve written about science and health research before, but most of the time it has been with help from a press release, research papers or interviews with the researcher. It’s hard to produce an interesting story from that. I’m most looking forward to being able to enter the lab and watch the research as it is happening. When I do join lab meetings and observe the lab’s research, I’m grateful that Mackenzie can serve as my translator. Often, a press release or research paper is scattered with terms and allusions to previous research that I don’t understand. I spend as much time translating the jargon for myself as I do translating it for a reader. I’m not really sure what to expect when I go to the lab, but I’m sure it will be much more inspiring than a press release.
I’m ready to use the journalism skills I’ve been studying at Mizzou in a new field. It is easy to keep readers interested in the political world or the entertainment world, but the scientific world is different. I know how to hunt for a story, but I’m sure I will have to hunt for it in a different way when I’m reporting on a research lab.