One of the wonderful things about blogging is the feeling of connection to readers. It’s not just the comments and feedback but the sense of writing directly for readers rather than writing to please an editor. At the Tracker, I sensed a connection to you.
I was a little afraid when I was first asked to write for the KSJ Tracker. What would it be like to critique other journalists? How would I go about it? I said yes, partly because I tend to choose the risker option, and partly because saying yes would keep me involved in science writing, which is my passion.
The beauty of the universe was my first push into science writing. In my freshman year, I learned how laws governing electricity and magnetism predict the existence of light. The connection was as beautiful as any piece of music. I thought everyone should get the chance to experience this profound relationship beneath the surface of things.
Another push came in an “oceans and atmospheres” class, during which I realized how much disruption would come from the changes we were making to the atmosphere. This was back in the 1980s, and even then, the threat was very well understood, even if scientists didn’t know exactly when or how it would play out. I thought this carbon dioxide problem should be all over the newspapers.
And soon it would be. Back then, people such as Tracker creator Boyce Rensberger as well as Charlie Petit and Phil Hilts were showing what was possible. They used their prodigious writing and editing talents to turn complex and sometimes opaque science into clear, accessible front page news. Newspapers haven’t fared well in recent years, but they set a standard of ethics and quality for new forms of journalism. One of the aspects of the Tracker I admired long before I joined was the way the writers stood up for journalistic integrity and took a stand against pseudoscience, misleading spin, and gullible reporting of questionable claims.
Professional writing is a field fraught with quicksand and shifting tectonic plates. But sticking with it is worth the bumps and bruises, the setbacks and moments of free fall. It was a joy to write for others who share a passion for science and writing. Thank you to Charlie, Paul and Phil Hilts for adding me to your team. Thank you to the Tracker readers for all your ideas, your comments, for correcting my mistakes and for writing so many great stories and blog posts. I learned, and I got better as I went along. I am stronger and wiser for having taken the risk.
What will I miss most about writing for the Tracker? You.
– Faye Flam