Maybe a little personal backstory is in order.
I was/am a science and math nerd. In a big way.
I likely disappointed a number of my teachers by not pursuing a Ph.D of some sort, where I could make a real contribution to society. But there were two realizations I had about myself that played into that decision:
- I have a wide variety of interests among the sciences, and
- I have a distinct knack for explaining things.
Put those together, and you have a nice starter kit for a budding Science Journalist. (Lord knows there aren’t enough people making science interesting, exciting or tangible.)
The Path Denied
By the time I was to the point in college where you have to declare a major, I figured the best way to pursue this dream was to go through Geology. It has a little bit of physics, a little bit of chemistry, and a little bit of biology. It makes for a nice nexus across the disciplines.
In my year as a Geology Major, I was asked by professors and graduate assistants where I would specialize. After all, you can’t just get a degree in Geology. That’s useless! You must get a Ph.D, and that means focusing on either vulcanology, paleontology or petro-chemical geology. In other words, put myself in one of those silos. I had two professors in one semester who had neighboring offices, yet couldn’t even hold a conversation with one another because they were too deep in their own little worlds.
Very Important Science happens deep in those silos – but for me, the interesting science happens at the intersections of disciplines. Which meant even more school. And noÂ guaranteeÂ I’d be able to exercise those whims of interest.
So — already working at a television station — I ditched the whole effort and got my degree in Broadcast Journalism, with a minor in Political Theory. Also graduated with 40 hours in hard sciences and calculus, which didn’t come very handy in a profession that is repulsed by math.
I am who I am
In the murky depths of my soul, though, lurks the unfulfilled destiny of the frustrated science reporter. One who keeps abreast of the new and interesting and exciting — which also might just be too complex for instant understanding. My bookshelf is proof.
My impetus to write and to share comes from a need to help others understand. And maybe I’m drawn to the things others are not explaining very well, because if others are doing the job on certain topics then I don’t need to.
Maybe I am in the right place at the right time. Journalism as a whole is imploding under the weight of outdated distribution models that aren’t cost-effective. “Specialty” writers are even more rare on staff, and are almost exclusively found in the freelance market. Maybe the service I provide here is a model for… well, something. I don’t know what.
But I do know that I enjoy writing. And explaining. It’s the bedrock of who I am, no matter what I am paid to do.