SRA Baltimore 2013 Roundtable: Risk in Changed Circumstances

Three news editors reflected on issues related to science journalism and risk reporting.

Editors Cheryl Hogue (Chemical & Engineering News), Maria Hegstad (Risk Policy Report), and Erik Stokstad (Science) participated in a roundtable discussion moderated by Steve Gibb (SCG, Inc.; pictured at upper right) that encompassed a host of issues related to science journalism. After introducing the editorial focus of their publications, the editors discussed trends in coverage, diminishing access to government scientists, and other key issues in the field such as climate change, endocrine disruptors, current toxics legislation, how they negotiate with sources about their information, and background/off-the-record interviewing.

Several of the panelists said that despite rhetoric about "transparency," the Obama administration's policy towards journalists doing their job has been to block contact with EPA and other government scientists. The panel also discussed careers in science communication, the topic of scientific fraud, sustainability and risk assessment, and what constitutes "news" at their publications. Audience members sustained a robust discussion on these topics and suggested that media training for SRA members might be welcome, given the lack of focus on the development of this skill area during their scientific training.

Pictured above, left to right, are Cheryl Hogue (Chemical & Engineering News), Maria Hegstad (Risk Policy Report), and Erik Stokstad (Science). 

Submitted by Steve Gibb, SCG Inc.; pictures contributed by Sharon Friedman and John Besley