Ah, yes. Science writing. Here’s a guide on science writing for press conferences:
It is a general term, unlike its cousins in the presscon circuit. I am not kidding. It covers news, features, newsfeatures, columns, and so on. It is called science writing because it discusses science topics in the public setting. Yes, your audience is the general public – and it is also called science journalism, which is, by the way, the technical and preferred term.
I am not going to talk about formats, because they either follow the formats of news, features, and columns. We can talk about length though: 200-300 words for a basic news article, 500 words for Facebook-native posts and publications, 600-1200 words for web publications, and feature-length (anywhere from 700 words to the length of a book) and everything in between are all proper lengths for science articles.
There are three things to remember about science journalism.
First, you are here to inform and explain to common people about science topics. This means you have to simplify the complicated, demystify the mystifying, and color the shiny metal parts of science. What does this mean? Make your articles understandable while explaining the science properly. Is it hard? At first glance, yes. However, with enough exposure, reading, and practice, you can improve quickly.
Second, you are here to talk about science and put it in context with your everyday lives. You actually have to be interested in science, society, and real-life events in order to pull this off. As a matter of fact, even science fiction is considered to be an allegory of real life, but I digress – you have to do your research right. You have to know your science developments, both in the Philippines and globally. You have to live and breathe science. It is what will allow you to write science well.
Finally, and most importantly, you have to make sure that your facts and figures are right…and you actually know the theories and basic workings of the topics that you are asked to talk about. This is not just about combating fake news, but respecting the sanctity of science journalism and respecting science as a whole.
My main advice is to just read everything about science and technology. You will be able to identify techniques and formats quickly, as well as different ways to make your writing interesting, fun, and colorful to read while being able to explain scientific concepts, events, and discoveries accurately. The other advice I could say is master news writing, feature writing, and opinion (column) writing so you can integrate their principles while writing science journalism. Besides, you will never know what your judge will tell you for the contest, so might just as well learn everything that you can along the way!
As for actual examples and resources? You are lucky, especially due to the fact that science journalism is one of the most important topics today.
Internationally, Vox has some of the best science journalism explainers, both in print and video form. Locally, Rappler has one of, if not the best science sections in the country, especially when it comes to climate change (Regardless of your political stance, it is time to read Rappler objectively and acknowledge them for what they have done for science writing). Then there are things like the New York Times, the Atlantic (tip: read Ed Yong for the latest), the Guardian, and frankly many other shining examples out there, as well as the usual suspects in the Philippines: Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, Manila Times, etc. Among student publications, UP’s Philippine Collegian and Ateneo’s GUIDON are good examples as well.
Yes, science writing is about reading, understanding, and living science. The journalism part comes afterward. You have to be interested in science (or have enough knowledge about science) to effectively write it!
In summary: Science journalism is the art of explaining and informing the general public about science through the lens of journalistic writing. It can take different forms and media, and its length would entirely depend on the medium. Direct language, contextualization, and knowledge of science are the keys on which you build scientific communication and journalism!
Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor in the press conference! Let the games – este, bonding begin! And PS: Don’t be lazy, just go to Google and learn how to use it properly for your research! Hahahaha!
Also read this: 10 engaging examples of science journalism (shorthand.com)
And this too: Getting Started in Science Journalism – The Open Notebook