Most people are aware The Research Triangle Park (RTP) and the Triangle region in general has a plethora of science and technology related companies, people, and activities. Images of lab coats, techie start-ups, and research universities abound. But, innovation and science doesn’t operate in a silo, and it takes more than a test tube and a fume hood to create a successful research firm.
When you think of the support organizations needed to nurture the region’s innovation, thoughts of venture capital firms, incubator space, and professional service firms come to mind. However, as we were reminded last week at the annual ScienceOnline event, the RTP region is also a landing ground for science communicators, journalists, and bloggers who support and market the scientific community to the world.
As the members of this journalist community continue to expand, we are also witnessing the demise of print media outlets nationwide. This becomes a contradiction of sorts, and every journalist across the nation has their own hard-luck story. However, the fall of print journalism also presents communicators with the opportunity to jump on a whole new set of social media/Web 2.0 based tools to harness their efforts and expand their audience.
Which brings me to a list of five innovative ways our RTP science communicators are reinventing the nature of journalism right here at home:
1. Conferences, unconferences, and online collaboration. The recent ScienceOnline event is a testimony to the strength of organic gatherings as a way for science communicators to learn, share and collaborate with their peers.
2. Science in the Triangle. Science in the Triangle is an evolving experiment in community science journalism and scientific-community organizing. Launched online in April 2008, Science in the Triangle informs research park companies and employees about the advancements their neighbors are making through the internet and new media tools.
3. Science Communicators of North Carolina (SCONC). SCONC is a professional organization founded in April 2007 providing fellowship and networking among communicators who bring science to the public. The organization includes science writers, journalists, public information officers, teachers and institutional communicators from academia, government labs, industry, museums and schools — just about anyone interested in communicating science. SCONC President Ernie Hood also runs a stellar radio show highlighting interviews with science leaders from the region.
4. Networking 2.0. Communicators are taking interest in innovation-based events like never before with the benefit of creating connections and networking their way to the science scoop. The Triangle Area Research Directors Council (TARDC), Innovation in RTP, and American Scientist Pizza Lunch are just starters in a line-up of interesting programs being covered by freelance journalists across the region.
5. Blogs, blogs and more blogs. Traditional print media presented journalists with a number of challenges, not limited to scope and speed to market. With the access to online tools such as blogs, journalists now literally have the world as an audience at their fingertips. Some of our favorite blogs to follow:
Cree LED Revolution Blog
*This list is in no way comprehensive. Please suggest additional blogs we should be watching!