Bad Science blogger Ben Goldacre talks about science coverage in the media and in the blogosphere.
I’m at Webstock and I’m sitting across the table from a guy who built the BBC’s iPlayer and customisable homepage, next to the manager of NZ On Screen and listening to US journalist and blogger Annalee Newitz talk about how science fiction gives us vocabulary and a frame of reference for emerging technologies.
The radio documentaries, aired by the BBC World Service, look at what we would be missing if everday mundane things had never existed. This week they look at copper. “Without copper there’d be no lighting, electrical power for lighting, no radio, no renewable energy systems, no working automobiles, air conditioning or refrigerators, no digital electronics, no computing, no safe drinking water distribution…
Every now and then newsrooms receive edicts banning overused phrases and ungainly words. The use of access and impact as verbs springs to mind – something we were on constant guard against on the Business pages of the Daily Telegraph when I was there a few years ago. Apparently, this is nothing new. The NZ Herald in its 1966 Manual of Journalism exhorted its writers thus: “In recent years, without making them pass any sort of entrance examination, we seem to have admitted dozens of words which usually have little excuse for appearing in a newspaper. Some examples: ‘Few air services operated yesterday because of fog.’ Why not: ‘Fog stopped most air services yesterday.’
Another piece of nostalgia from the NZ Herald Manual of Journalism 1967. Pneumatic tubes as a story delivery system within newsrooms were before my time but what a shame, they look cracking.
From the NZ Herald Manual of Journalism, 1967, a NZ Herald reporter breaks news from the scene of a fire via the radio telephone.
Country Calendar must be one of the few New Zealand media institutions that truly count as ‘iconic’. The weekly programme, which casts light on NZ farming, hasn’t looked back since its launch in 1966 and the current theme tune must be one of the most readily identifiable sounds for any Kiwi. This clip gives a glimpse of what the programme used to look, and sound, like.
Phrases and terms have a way of getting mangled over time and it can be hard finding clear examples of what is and isn’t right. Philip Corbett, a deputy news editor at the New York Times who’s in charge of its style manual, does a fine job explaining how to use ‘beg the question’.
For the nostalgics among you, here’s a cracker of an educational video from the days when women worked on the social pages, typesetters ruled, sub-editors wore visors and syndicated copy was mimeographed.
Is it just me, or do you find in your organisation that people expect websites to mushroom by magic, as if little elves were at work while you slept? I’ve lost count of how many newsrooms I’ve come across which rely on the efforts of a single, young, overworked web editor to monitor and update their website 24 hours a day, seven days a week (impossible, of course, they just do their best Monday to Friday and hope nothing breaks on the weekend to make them look like muppets).