MinnPost.com Launches “Science Agenda”

Newcomer outlet picks up the slack left by MSM

On Thursday, I wrote about a group of thirty-five research universities that have launched a “newswire” called Futurity.org to showcase their best research. The impetus for the project was the decline of science coverage in the press. Elsewhere, however, the day also brought hope that all is not lost for traditional journalism.

MinnPost.com announced that it has launched a new science news section called “Scientific Agenda.” According to a post by the site’s co-managing editor, Roger Buoen, the new section—like Futurity—is a direct response to the decline of mainstream science coverage. (Interestingly, Buoen notes that that applies to the social sciences as well as the hard sciences, both of which MinnPost will explore.)

“[B]eginning today,” Buoen wrote on Thursday morning, “MinnPost will make its own effort to fill a small part of the big informational void when it comes to science news…. And it will be reported and written by journalists who know science.”

Sharon Schmickle, who has been MinnPost’s science reporter, judging from the archives, since the online-only outlet launched in 2007, will write most of Science Agenda’s articles. Both she and the section’s editor, Jim Dawson, formerly wrote for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, where MinnPost is based. According to a bio at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Schmickle has twenty-seven years of experience covering stories from Washington to Iraq. She has participated in a number of the country’s preeminent science journalism fellowship programs and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1996.

There are already a number of Schmickle’s posts available at Science Agenda—from a report about scientists decoding the genome of the mold that caused the Irish Potato Famine of the nineteenth to century, to one about a computer model for calling football plays. According to Buoen’s announcement, “Scientific Agenda will also include material from other sources, including Inside Science News Service, a Washington, D.C.-based news service. Inside Science News Service is supported by the not-for-profit American Institute of Physics, a publisher of scientific journals.”

A tip o’ the hat goes to The Knight Science Journalism Tracker for calling readers’ attention to the new endeavor first.

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Curtis Brainard writes on science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.