Friday, August 29, 2014

Internship Spotlight: Derek Chung

The Rush Is Worth the Price I Pay

When I think of journalism, I picture hectic chaos in the newsroom as new stories appear out of thin air like condensation on a cool glass of beer.  With science journalism, the environment is still the same – the only difference being every story is a fascinating publication that you want to cover.  The whole ‘fast paced, lots of action with endless amounts of news’ aspect ensures that it’s never a dull place at Science Fare Media, Canada’s first digital science news organization.  As an associate producer intern, I was involved in every aspect of science journalism from selecting my stories from the various daily embargoed listings to setting up interviews with scientists all over the world to finally writing up the story in a fun way that would engage readers.

Here at Science Fare Media, our goal is to always focus on one question: what’s cool about this story?  By figuring out the cool factor first, everything else seemingly falls into place by itself and before you know it, you’ve created this factual story that’s perfect for taking to the water cooler to impress all your friends.  The best part?  The connection you share when you begin to get excited about the research and the co-author you’re interviewing is equally as excited about their study – it’s an exhilarating sensation and it reminds you why you fell in love with science to begin with.  The role of being a science journalist also provides an added bonus: sometimes you get lucky enough to interview the scientists that you idolize because their bit of expertise on the matter is just what you need to help put your story together.

Based in the heart of downtown Toronto, I often felt as though I was competing with the streets below me in a race to see who can be the busiest that day.  The work may be tough and certainly demanding, especially when life throws curveballs at you, but thriving in an environment such as this is astronomically rewarding – not just as a scientist, not just as a science communicator, but as an individual thirsty for the knowledge of this world.

-Derek Chung, SciComm ‘14

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Internship Spotlight: Michelle Di Cintio

Alternative Experience

I thought about writing this blog while lying in the hammock in the boardroom. A bit unconventional for an office, but Alternatives Journal is a bit of an unconventional workplace. As the oldest Canadian environmental magazine, the purpose of the magazine is to provide accurate environmental news stories covering political, societal and technological issues - and solutions. Their goal is to "deliver reliable, future focused environmental journalism, support environmental education in Canada, and help build the Canadian environmental movement." Across the street from city hall in Kitchener, the office sits on the second floor of a building that used to be a bank - the journal's archive is housed in the steel vault in the office. It's a small operation, with less than 10 people occupying the office. They are supported by volunteers, interns, and freelancers. 
Alternatives is generous when it comes to their interns. As the editorial intern, I performed a variety of tasks that took into account my Science Communication degree. Fact-checking  is rigorous for all stories - is the information coming from reputable source, is the science being accurately depicted, are the author's conclusions viable based on the information presented? It can be challenging, but it's never dull. I wrote short pieces for print, and blog pieces for their website. I interviewed environmentalists, reviewed books and films, and went to events to report on the proceedings. The experience was well rounded not just in terms of my responsibilities, but in the way I got to experience all of the different aspects that go into publishing a journal.
I think the most rewarding aspect at Alternatives Journal was that it allowed me to watch science communication in action, and to participate in that action. Science communication isn't about collecting and reeling off facts, it's about inspiring action, and providing necessary information in order to make informed action. At Alternatives Journal, keeping people informed and aware of environmental news is just one part of creating an effective environmental movement. I am grateful to have been a part of their movement for a time, and hope to use what I learnt to the best of my ability.

-Michelle Di Cintio, SciComm '14