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Science Writer - The Growth Of Specialization

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Previously, most publications put so little emphasis on science that they did not need a specialized reporter. More and more, though, news organizations regard scientific results as necessary information, part of the everyday reporting of news. After all, science and technology have radically altered the way we live. For example, consider the development of antibiotics and vaccines, nuclear weapons, computer technologies, lasers, and fiber optics. Advances in science and technology will undoubtedly continue to occur in ways that we can not fully predict. The Human Genome Project, with all its promise and ethical unknowns, illustrates this perfectly.

The fast pace of scientific and technological advance has led to an increasing demand for science writers who understand science, and who can make others understand it as well. The membership of the National Association of Science Writers is now nearly 2,500. Science writing programs have sprung up at Boston University, Northwestern University, the University of California in Santa Cruz, the University of Maryland, and many other institutions. Most of these programs are aimed at journalists who wish to learn how to write about science, to more deftly translate jargon, explain complex experiments, and illuminate the people and the politics behind the science. A few, such as the program at Santa Cruz, are geared for science majors who wish to learn about journalism.

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