I completed my reporting internship with Nature near the end of June. My final work on staff there included recording a news chat for the weekly podcast about the ApolloPlus40 Twitter project I mentioned in my last post. I also discussed an ancient bone flute found in Germany. You can download the newschat here [mp3, 7:05], or the entire podcast from Nature. For the following week’s podcast I interviewed Elly Tanaka about her work on how salamanders regenerate lost limbs. Listen to my interview here [mp3, 6:15], get the whole podcast, or read the news story I wrote about it.
I also wrote a blog post about how an academic publisher offered its authors and pretty much anyone else willing to to post favorable reviews on websites gift certificates worth $25. Not too lucrative, but it must have attracted some people before an indignant academic blew the whistle.
Finally, I filed a feature story a while back but will be finishing it up on a freelance basis, and will post about it separately whenever it appears in Nature. So in some ways the 3-month internship is not over. I’ll be completing the ApolloPlus40 Twitter project and my feature alongside my other freelance work. Still, now’s a good time to reflect on it: the internship was a great chance to see the inside of a media organization, to work closely with great journalists, and to learn new tricks to take my journalism career to the next level. Freelancing 2.0? Could be.
I’ve been surprisingly absorbed by the task of writing 140-character Tweets recapping the Apollo XI lunar landing. The project, roughly timed to mimic the mission on a 40-year delay, has had a very encouraging response so far! I also got roped into writing a landing page and timeline for Nature’s online special commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo program. It’s been a great excuse to revisit books I read about Apollo when I was a kid and to check out new sources of Apollo history.
I’ve continued to follow the battles between chiropractors and watchdogs provoked by the Simon Singh libel case (here, here, and here). Reporting on this case and that of the Ida fossil have been really instructive–I’d rarely followed the same news story for very long before. I aim to do more of that when I return to freelancing next week.
Finally, I wrote a quick blog post about how Swedish natural scientist Carl Linnaeus invented the index card to help him keep track of all the animal and plant species he was classifying.
I covered monkey business of several types this week. First, I wrote a news story about Simon Singh, who announced that he hopes to appeal a judge’s ruling in a libel case about chiropractic. He and his supporters are also campaigning to limit the influence of English libel laws on public science-related debates.
I also wrote a news story about scientists who tickled apes and human babies so they could see how ape laughter reflects our evolutionary relationships.
Finally I blogged briefly about a topic that’s gotten attention in the media: the failure of the American health care insurance system to adequately protect Americans from financial ruin.
Thanks to Ida the fossil primate I got out of the office last week, on Tuesday to see a screening of the documentary about Ida at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and on Wednesday to interview Ida’s other half Jørn Hurum at the studio that produced the film. I blogged about the screening and Nature ran an online question-and-answer story culled from my interview. Nature also ran a few choice quotes from the press juggernaut in the print magazine, along with an editorial, though I can’t take credit for the editorial. It’s trickier doing in-person reporting, but I really enjoy it and hope to include a little more of it in my work.
I also dashed off a quick blog on a US federal directive which halts road-building in about 50 million acres of US Forest Service land, a reversal of a Bush reversal of a Clinton rule. Not clear? Click here to read the whole thing.
Update: My interview with Jørn Hurum appeared on the Brazilian website terra.com.br on 2 June.