About this blog

This blog is dedicated to a discussion about the blurring of the lines that separate (independent) science journalism and science PR.

With budgets for independent science journalism shrinking, growing numbers of science journalists choose not so much to ‘jump the fence’ between journalism and PR but rather to do work on both sides of that fence virtually at the same time. According to some, public trust in science communication may be on the line, and in the end public trust in science as well.

The background

Science journalism is suffering from newsroom downsizings and a global recession. ‘Independent’ news media are increasingly copy-pasting material that is supplied to them by universities and others; growing numbers of freelance science reporters are doubling as freelance writers for research organizations, non-profit organizations, governments, private companies or research funding organizations.

In the field of science communication, players seem to be switching teams without changing their jerseys.

Is the line between journalism and PR fading? Can readers trust climate change stories when a reporter also gets income from climate research, or travels the world with all expenses paid? At what point does science journalism stop being independent? Should journalists worry about their own conflicts of interest just like they worry about those of others?

The discussion was kicked off by a lively debate at the 8th World Conference of Science Journalists in Helsinki, in the summer of 2013. Now, it is followed up by discussions in national science journalism associations.

This blog was set up by Peter Vermij, who after 20 years in (science) journalism jumped over the fence entirely in 2006 and has since worked exclusively as an adviser through his own consulting company. Regarding this blog, you can best contact him by e-mail or twitter.

Please feel free to join the discussion!

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