Category: State of Journalism

World Conference of Science Journalists: Helsinki Recap

Well, it finally happened. After nearly a year of planning, conversations, blog posts, and twitter exchanges the #sci4hels – Rose Eveleth, Kathleen Raven, Lena Groeger and myself organized by Bora Zivkovic gave our presentation to the World Conference of Science Journalists. WCSJ2013 was held in Helsinki, Finland June 24-27 and included more than 800 journalists from 77 different countries.

For me, the highlight of the conference was certainly the opportunity to meet, listen to, and learn from so many different journalists with such different interests and areas of concern.

Sunset over Helsinki, photo by me

Sunset over Helsinki, photo by me

I kicked off the conference with a workshop from the European School of Oncology, in which there were very few Americans but several reporters from African countries. It was interesting to hear about the most prominent issues for them regarding cancer coverage, particularly access to information and the shift from covering infectious disease to covering a disease that is not transmissible.

Once the full conference program kicked off, it was a blur of ideas and activity moving from session to session and bouncing between ideas. I livetweeted every session I attended, which for me is a great way to synthesize information and take notes but it did leave me buzzing at times like all of the information I absorbed was rattling around in my brain. Most of my tweets were under the hashtag #wcsj2013 but there were also session specific hashtags and of course we tweeted with #sci4hels.

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Wake Up Sweetheart, You’re A Feminist (Book Review: The Good Girls Revolt)

I hope you read that title with the sarcasm with which it was meant, and that you never try to call me sweetheart. It won’t go well. It’s been a while since I did a book review here at Science Decoded (mostly because I don’t have the time to read that I used to) but I just finished Lynn Povich’s The Good Girls Revolt and it spurred me to want to write this post which has been kicking around in my brain for months now. The Good Girls Revolt is the story of the first all female class action lawsuit filed by the women who worked for Newsweek.

Even just two years ago, if you had asked me if I was a feminist I would have told you no. Back then the idea that women needed to form a movement to be treated equal seemed extreme. Equality isn’t hard, it’s a pretty simple concept really. So who wants to be all extreme and label themselves and fight for…what…what are we fighting for? I didn’t know. I had plenty of opportunities, I interacted with professional women a lot. It didn’t feel necessary. Besides, I like shaving my legs (though you should read this post about choosing not to). I have a closet full of dresses and high heels. You’re unlikely to catch me outside the house without makeup. I was vice president of my sorority for crying out loud. Feminist? Psh. But you know what feminism isn’t about? Those things. Any of it.

GoodGirlsRevoltComing from a relatively well-off, educated background where I was always expected to go to college and then work, I never thought of myself as a feminist. My Dad’s attitude toward my career as a science writer has always simply been, go get ’em. I have surrounded myself in life by people, men and women, who value my intelligence and drive to succeed. Growing up I never felt like I was being compared to my brother or any other guy. I never felt like I was less or that less was expected of me. Feminists were an other, and if anything made me feel intimidated. The judgement of other women is scary, sometimes it feels scarier than the idea of walking into a room full of men to tell them what’s what. But, spending a little time in the world, talking to people, and reading things like Povich’s book or Dr. Isis’ Feminist Awakening has a wonderfully eye opening effect.

I think most women in the workplace have a so-and-so said this absolutely jack ass comment to me about xyz story, at least I do, and I’ve heard many stories in a similar vein. The types of things that make people look at you like you’ve got six heads because surely someone didn’t actually SAY that. You might not even have realized it, because at the time I didn’t really see it as sexism. I knew I was upset that good ideas were being shot down. The thought that anyone would take the way I look and my gender and use that to gauge my ability as a writer before actually reading anything I wrote was so completely absurd to me, that I didn’t even realize at first that it was happening.

In hindsight, this made me blame myself – maybe it really isn’t that good an idea, maybe I’m not working hard enough, maybe if I’m here later and put in more hours, maybe if I prove myself…no. I want to grab unpaid intern Erin and shake her and say don’t you dare write that crappy story that you know is bullshit while the paid male intern gets the better story. Walk out. Leave. You’re better than that. I’ve heard it said before that my generation is lazy and entitled. Well in my not so humble opinion, myself and my friends and other young people like us more often assume deeply personal responsibility for failure. If I don’t get that story it’s because I did something wrong. Me. I’m not good enough. How could it ever be that there is a system ingrained in society that is going to hold us back? This is 2013. It can’t possibly be true that we’re still dealing with this.

Povich’s book chronicles events from the 60’s and 70’s, we can’t still be having this same problem? No, no we’re not. The problem back then was flagrant, out in the open, so egregious that it couldn’t be ignored. That is still happening, oh, does it happen. But there is also a subtle sexism – a mild slight, a passing comment, a raise that’s just a little less, a promotion that takes a little longer to get. These are the things that are harder to pinpoint, harder to blame on sexism, but are ultimately what made me wake up to the fact that I’m a feminist. Part of Povich’s book focuses on today, on three women from my generation working for Newsweek: Jessica Bennet, Jesse Ellison and Sarah Ball and the story they wrote in 2010 “Are We There Yet?” questioning if the battle of the sexes is really over. Their experiences resonated with me a lot.

Since I entered college and started writing and trying to get my work published, I’ve been lucky in that the sexism I’ve faced has been mild. Sad state of affairs that it makes me feel lucky, but it does. Right now where I work my superiors are all women – my boss, her boss, her boss’ boss, her boss’ boss’ boss…but my awesome situation isn’t common (and believe me, I don’t take it for granted.) But that doesn’t mean that sexism isn’t still here, and that other people aren’t dealing with much worse on a regular basis. I’m a feminist for myself because yes, I want a fair shake, I want to be recognized for the value of my work and not whether or not my hair looks shiny that day. But, adding my voice to the other feminist voices out there is about more than just me. I’ve got it pretty good. I’m not trying to argue that I don’t. But I can support the women out there who are dealing with overt sexism, who are being attacked. I can try to be an ally. That to me is the real value of feminism, of standing together.

It’s my opinion that a lot of the yelling that happens on the internet (if you could only hear how loudly I am typing!!) happens because we’ve gotten so wrapped up in judging the world based on our personal perspective that we can’t see the things that happen outside ourselves. I’ve never encountered sexism therefore sexism doesn’t exist. We have GOT to shake off this way of invalidating the experiences of others. Once you start listening, I think you’ll find like I did that the need for feminism is impossible to ignore. Participating in #sci4hels, and working with Rose, Lena, and Kathleen (follow us in Helsinki next week!) is another thing that has driven home for me the need for women to support each other. We’ve already used our platform to have a conversation about being female science writers, and I hope that discussion is one that will continue in the future.

Feminism, for me, is a way to recognize that we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. We still need to get out there, and support each other, and continue having these conversations because equality might be a simple concept, but that doesn’t make it any less evasive. I’ve had these conversations a lot lately, and have been asked, “do you think people don’t take you seriously because…you know…you’re good looking?” Typically, I answer something along the lines of making smart decisions is optional, and if anyone doesn’t take me seriously for any reason that’s their mistake to make. I don’t think it’s a bad answer, but until that answer is a resounding “no” we’re just not done yet.

So, if you’ve been in the journalism business for less than 20 years, The Good Girls Revolt is a must-read. Hell, if you’ve been in the business for more than 20 years, it’s still a good read. Recommended.

We’re All Worth $20,000

If you’re a science writer chances are you’re pissed off right about now. I am. What has me and so many other writers pissed off is this: The Knight Foundation recently paid disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer $20,000 to speak about how he lied, plagarized and basically stomped all over journalism.

His speech was a lousy apology. I mean, it’s not his fault he made so many mistakes, he’s just too smart for his own good guys. I agree that watching him talk while a public flogging took place on Twitter on a screen behind him was awkward, but are we really supposed to just look at the situation and say, welp, everyone makes mistakes? No. That time I killed the dinosaurs several million years too late because I forgot the zeroes on a date was a mistake. A mistake that came from sloppiness, that I apologized for, and learned from. I was forgiven for that mistake (which was even in an article I wasn’t paid to write.) Fabricating quotes, plagarizing, and lying in multiple publications, for a prolongued period of time, that isn’t an, “everyone makes mistakes” scenario. That is a, you have fundamental character flaws that should prohibit you from doing this job, scenario.

A lot of the science writers I know, young, new, established – it doesn’t matter – were and still are up in arms about the Knight Foundation paying Lehrer $20,000 for his “apology” speech. I’m mad too, I’m mad for every single good journalist out there staring at their bank account wondering if they’ll be able to pay this month’s rent. I’m mad because $20,000 could fund a lot of amazing journalism and the Knight Foundation paid it pretty much just to get people riled up and talking about the Knight Foundation. I’m mad because good journalists are giving up because they can’t make enough money to stay alive in this business. Giving up. But we’re going to keep Lehrer’s career alive. That’s insane.

I have a full time salaried science writing job – it makes me feel lucky on a daily basis that I’m getting paid to do something that I enjoy. Still, as a science writer for a cancer center I’ve been told that I’m a sell-out. I’ve been told that I can’t consider myself a journalist anymore because my objectivity and integrity is tainted by being associated with an organization. Any organization. It doesn’t matter if it happens to be a decent, hell even a good, organization. I took a job in science communication rather than chasing a career in pure journalism because it makes me happy. While in graduate school I started having serious doubts about whether my personality was cut out for journalism. I took a long hard look at what I loved about science writing and decided that the act of communicating, of explaining, of seeing the impact of helping people understand was most important to me. It wasn’t a decision made based on money, but obviously the fact that I could get a paying job doing communication when there are no guarantees in journalism made the decision easier. The decision I made still gets to me sometimes though. It REALLY gets to me when I think about the fact that people contend I can’t consider myself a journalist anymore, but Lehrer can. Lehrer gets to be a journalist. Really?

Where do we even start to try to address the problem here? Can we ever even hope to convince the people who have the money to pay up for writers that are actually worth $20,000 (and really so much more?) I don’t know. But, I think the science writing community did a great thing by reacting to the whole $20,000 debacle by tweeting the names and articles of good writers using the hashtag #worth20k. The suggestion came from @vero_greenwood and was Tweeted by Ed Yong – who is worth far more than $20,000 himself – and ended up creating a list of pretty fantastic writers who deserve a lot more financial support for their work than they’re getting.

I wanted to add my two cents, but twitter is a medium for brevity and I feel like I need to explain WHY the fact that the following people exist means the science communciation ecosystem doesn’t need someone who lies, plagarizes, and then tries to tell us it’s just because he’s so smart. And arrogant. Can’t forget the arrogance. I could never list everyone whose work is worth20k, so this just a few people who inspire me, or have had an impact on my career in some way. I hope you’ll check out the hashtag itself for more, and as Bora Zivkovic said on twitter the whole SA Incubator is a list of people who are worth20k, so editors – help a new science writer out!

#worth20k (and so much more)

Jennifer Ouellette – I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I’ve never taken a physics class, barely scraped my way through high school chemistry with a D, and never took a math class higher than Algebra III (which I and everyone else in my high school knew was math for the dumb kids.) I’ve pretty much always wanted to write about science, but there was a moment in there when I wanted to be a scientist, (straight A’s in biology might have had something to do with it) – but I decided against science itself because I didn’t think I’d ever be smart enough to pass the classes. When I was just starting graduate school for Journalism focused on science writing I was really intimidated by writing about things I’d never studied. Enter Jennifer Ouellette. She came to UW-Madison as the science writer in residence and talked to us about how she taught herself physics. She blogs at Cocktail Party Physics and has written several books on physics and calculus. Whenever I start feeling like I’m in over my head and I’m just not going to get something right, I think about that talk. I dive back into the paper, or look up the answers and I figure it out. I remember that I can do this. I remember that I’m smart enough. TELL ME THAT’S NOT WORTH $20,000.

Steve Silberman – Last year UW-Madison hosted a conference on Science Denial. I was just sitting pre-session drinking my coffee when Steve Silberman sat down next to me. As we started up a conversation in my head I really couldn’t help thinking, “this is the most unassuming guy ever” because he clearly had no idea that I’d been trying to think of something inteligent to say to start up a conversation with him since the conference started. I’ve admired his writing for a while now, I always enjoy his PLoS blog and am so looking forward to his book! He always impresses me with the bravery and honesty in his writing. He tackles issues that might make people uncomfortable or be controversial and he does so with grace and eloquence. Worth $20,000.

Maggie Koerth-Baker – Maggie is someone I only recently got to meet (cheers, scio13) but whose work I’ve admired since I came across this fantastic explainer she wrote following the Fukushima nuclear incident. Nuclear Energy 101: Inside the “black box” of power plants is an awesome example of how to explain something that can be really complicated so that people take away the key information they need. I write a lot of explainers in my job, and I come back to this piece often as an example of how to get things right. Worth $20,000.

Rose Eveleth – The fact that since Science Online I have had people say to me, “wait, so you actually KNOW Rose?” totally just shows how amazing and admired Rose Eveleth is in the science writing community. She is a thoughful and creative science journalist who is busting her ass to make the science communication ecosystem better. You know what I would like you to do? I would like you go put her Kickstarter for Science Studio, a project with Ben Lillie and Bora Zivkovic, over the $8,000 goal so that they can sort through the best science audio AND video for us. Please. Only needs $8,000 but is SO WORTH $20,000.

Ivan Oransky – The man behind Retraction Watch and Embargo Watch, Ivan inspires me as a science writer because he saw a need in science communication and he did something about it. He started the blogs, and they’ve become a great resource and forum for talking about serious issues in science and communication. He made something, that we needed and benefit from – and he just does it so well. Be inspired. Create new, awesome things. Worth $20,000.

The rest of #sci4hels – Bora Zivkovic, Lena Groeger, and Kathleen Raven – All of you, and of course Rose, leave me pretty much feeling honored that I get to be associated with you. Whenever I talk about our panel at the World Conference of Science Journalists and people ask me “so why are you going?” I always reply with “I have no idea” because I really don’t feel worthy compared to all of you. I admire all of you so much, I did before all this #sci4hels killer science journalists of the future business, and I know I’ll continue to admire you after. Bora – our brave leader and the blogfather, not afraid to say what needs to get said, a never ending source of support and one hell of a writer. Check out his post on commenting threads, just the latest in a long line of awesome, thoughtful posts. Lena – her work at Propublica consistently impresses me, check out the awesome data visualizations used to track oil and natural gas pipeline accidents. I always love reading Kathleen’s articles, just one example is David Blaine’s Electrical Stunt Could Create Harmful Ozone. You are each worth $20,000 and then some.

The Question of Code Revisited: I Think I Can, So Can’t I?

“All of the true things I’m about to tell you are shameless lies.” Is it ever acceptable to walk into an interview with a mentality straight out of the Books of Bokonon from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle? In addition to being what is possibly my favorite literary quote ever, I think the idea of telling true lies really epitomizes an issue that so many science writers trying to break into the business are facing: when asked what our skills are, is what we feel comfortable knowing, all that we really know? 

I’ve been turning this over in my brain for a couple of months now. In September I wrote a blog post about whether or not learning to code should be required for journalists. Since I admittedly can’t code, I took the position that it doesn’t need to be required. I also said that in interviews it is totally unacceptable to claim that you can code when you can’t. I didn’t expect that statement to be a part of the post that would get any discussion going, but as it turned out it became for me the most interesting part. When the #sci4hels got talking about it, what seemed like a black and white issue (of course you shouldn’t stretch the truth in an interview!) became a lot less clear and a lot more complicated.

Degrees of truth

A lie is a lie, right? As journalists don’t we value the implicit requirement of honestly above nearly all else? Doesn’t this extend from what we say in a piece to the way we conduct ourselves professionally? So then, can you sit in an interview and when asked if you can code, edit video, make a podcast, etc. say that you can when you’ve never done it before? Is the skill that you have the ability to code or is the skill that you have the ability to learn to code? Learn quickly. In a way so that your potential employer never finds out that the moment you told them you could code you actually couldn’t. Is stretching the truth about your abilities lying? Even if it is lying, is it wrong or is it just a smart business move?
For me, the idea of claiming to know code when I don’t is absurd. Mostly because I don’t stand a chance of learning code in the time between getting hired and needing to use it on a professional level. I know, I know code isn’t THAT hard. I’ve heard that argument, the “you can do if you try” talk. I’m not scared to try, I just know myself enough to know that I’m not going to learn to code in a day. It took several weeks of my seventh grade school year for the Pythagorean theorem to make sense, and that’s not exactly hard. I try, but I’m not always a quick study. Maybe as far as being a millennial goes this puts me in the minority, but I know that if I sat in an interview and promised to code at a professional level in a days time I’d be telling a Vonnegut style shameless lie.
Why was this the bane of my middle school existence? Via Wikimedia Commons

Why was this the bane of my middle school existence? Via Wikimedia Commons

But, I’m not everybody. If the light bulb in your brain turned on a little bit faster when you were twelve and learning that a² + b² = c² then maybe you can learn to code in a day. Maybe code is the most logical thing you’ve ever seen and you will be its master by dinnertime. If you tell a potential employer that you can code, and you are completely sure of your ability to be able to deliver when called upon to use those skills, are you telling a lie? Is knowing what you need to know in order to know how to code the same as just knowing how to code?

I said before that I wasn’t afraid of code, but by sitting in an interview and swearing to the things I can’t do, am I selling myself short? Some of us might just be hiding behind a list of things we can’t do or won’t do and simultaneously shrinking our career prospects. Self sabotage, as it were. Is it principled, or pathetic? Being honest might be a one way ticket straight to the rejection pile. If I communicate the fact that I’d like to learn to code, and would gladly rise to that challenge enough to make someone want to hire me?

I have no faith in common sense

How do you know whether what you know is enough to claim that you know it? As #sci4hels were discussing this issue, what came up over and over was that you have to use common sense. You have to walk a thin line between what you know, what you know you can learn and how you present yourself and your abilities to your employers. If you claim to know something, and you fall flat on your face and don’t deliver the goods, you could do some real damage to your career. Not just because you’ll make your boss angry, not just because you might lose your job, not just because it might be embarrassing; but also because when you fail to deliver what started as a stretched bit of truth unraveled into a shameless lie. Getting caught in a lie in this business is a nail in your career’s coffin.
Sure, telling a lie about your ability isn’t the same as telling a lie in a story. I’m not saying that getting caught lying to an employer about what you can do is going to send your career to Lehrer type depths, but it isn’t going to help you get hired anywhere else. You run the risk of ending up labeled as someone who can’t deliver. Getting paid jobs as a science writer is hard enough, getting them once a pissed off editor tells all their connections not to hire you because you aren’t going to produce the work you say you will is going to be impossible.
This is a business about connections, if you start burning bridges so early in your career, you can really back yourself into a corner. It also speaks to character, doesn’t it? If you’ll lie about your abilities, what else will you lie about? How is anyone supposed to know where your professional ethics fall when you establish yourself as someone for whom a lie isn’t a lie it’s really more of a gray area.
So should we be telling young journalists that it’s okay to claim to be a master of science communication so long as you don’t fall flat on your face? It’s okay to lie, as long as you don’t fail and get caught. Is that really the lesson here? I have zero faith in advising journalism students to use common sense. Zero. If common sense were a clear boundary we wouldn’t still be spending entire class periods discussing what is Facebook appropriate (yes, even that cute picture of you playing beer pong with your Grandma probably doesn’t convey that you are serious about your career) and I’ve sat through those classes so I know very well what kind of questions students are asking. Use common sense doesn’t satisfy.
It's raining code, and apparently we're in the Matrix. Via Shutterstock

It’s raining code, and apparently we’re in the Matrix. Via Shutterstock

So then what are you supposed to do? The only answer that doesn’t present an ethical dilemma is to just learn code and then you’ll know you know it and you won’t be in a position where stretching the truth even comes up. Even someone with my stance has to agree that code is a nice skill to be packing in your arsenal. But this goes further than code. It could apply to any kind of program or web application; you can’t be an expert in everything. There are definitely going to be jobs that you might want where you don’t know the technology that is being used. It comes down to a personal risk vs. benefits assessment.

There is a lot to lose if you get caught claiming you can do things and not rising to the challenge – your reputation and your future prospects to name a few. There is also a lot to gain by forcing yourself to rise to the challenge to learn new things, get the job and stay competitive in this field. Maybe what new and young science journalists need is the kick in the rear that promising to deliver upon a skill brings. Maybe if I put myself in that situation I’d find that code isn’t nearly as bad as the Pythagorean theorem, and a lot of doors for future job prospects would get opened. Maybe I would torch my promising young career in a blaze of gray area glory.
Common sense is itself a gray area. If we are going to advise journalism students of anything, I’d say informed decision making is probably the way to go. You should be aware of the risks you take when you climb out on a limb with no safety net, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still climb. It has to be a personal case by case call, which really doesn’t help much. Hopefully though, if you think through the risks and the benefits of how you can present your skills, you’ll come to a decision that is the right one for you and your career. So proceed with caution. 

The Question of Code

Earlier this week Bora Zivkovic (@boraz) blogs editor at Scientific American tossed out the following links on twitter, and asked for thoughts. Both links were to articles from the Nieman Journalism Lab, the first Want to produce hirable grads, journalism schools? Teach them to code and the second News orgs want journalists who are great a a few things, rather than good at many present two different ways of thinking about the skills journalists need to have. The links started a conversation on twitter (excerpted below) between Bora, Rose Eveleth (@roseveleth) Kathleen Raven (@sci2mrow) Lena Groeger (@lenagroeger) and myself (@erinpodolak) I felt like there was more to say on the topic, so I decided to take it to the blog so that I could respond to everyone’s points without the confines of twitter brevity.

I definitely agree with this point from Rose, there are so many different skills you use as a journalist but a lot of what you need to know will vary based on your personal style and interests, what platform you write for, and what topics you are covering. I’ve found that I learned a lot more from going out and actually chasing down stories than I did sitting in classrooms. Of course, the guidance of journalism school makes learning by trial and error much less perilous than it can otherwise be, so classroom lessons have value too.
I moaned an awful lot about how scary being turned loose into the unemployed masses at the end of grad school seemed. Journalism has adapted to changes in viewership, platform and the poor economy, and so too must journalists or we run the risk of ceasing to be relevant. Making yourself as employable as possible is a good thing, but only if you are going after jobs where you can really contribute. You’ll only be able to contribute if either you know what you are doing or you have the desire and the drive to learn what to do. This thought brings me to the next point I made, not all the skills journalists use will appeal to all journalists. As a profession we can do a lot of different things, but that doesn’t mean that everyone wants to do everything.
If you are looking for a job, you have to be honest with yourself and your resume. I think for young journalists there is a temptation to trumpet skills that we only sorta, kinda, maybe have from that two hour seminar we sat through that one time. You can fit what I know about code on the head of a pin, and I’ve sat through basic training courses multiple times. My resume says nothing about being able to code, because I honestly don’t know how. It is always better to be honest about what you know. If you aren’t an expert in something, don’t claim to be. All you’ll do is disappoint possible employers. I think you can go a lot farther being honest about where you are with your skills, if you don’t know code but would like to then say so. If you’ve edited a video once or twice and would like to continue developing those skills then say so. Just don’t make yourself into an expert in something when you aren’t.
I recently graduated from the professional track Master’s program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a program that with only three core courses is left purposely open for students to do their own exploring. So what exploring did I do? I chose to spend my time taking science classes (mostly zoology) learning more about narrative writing and structure, and getting a better handle on social media, personal branding and marketing myself online. All good things to learn while at school, but I didn’t learn code. I honestly have zero interest in code, it isn’t something I’ve ever wanted to do, I don’t have the patience for it and I feel like my brain just doesn’t absorb even the basic information about code whenever it is presented to me. But that doesn’t make me an inept science writer. Kathleen Raven  joined the conversation, and brought up the following reason why not knowing code can still be okay.
Part of the reason I think I haven’t been particularly motivated to learn code is because I haven’t needed it. I was able to set up this blog and my website ( on WordPress using basic templates that suited my needs. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and G+ but none of these online activities involve needing to write my own code. To do what I want to online I haven’t run into the need to write code. Kathleen then made another point about a science journalism skill, the ability to do math, which can be overlooked but is important to a writer’s skill set.
Being able to do the math to fact check research reports and call bullshit when necessary is an important part of the reporting that science journalists do for their stories. If you know code but can’t do math, you have a critical weakness in your skill set. In my opinion the same goes for being able to structure stories successfully, and handle difficult interviews well. If you don’t have the basics, then the extras like code are just floating out there on your resume with no foundation. Being really good at the basics, and then selectively adding skills based on what you find that you need to know, and what you find you would like to know seems like a solid way to go about building your skill set. I think this gets us to the last points that Rose made:
You need to do something that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy code then in my opinion you shouldn’t feel like it is an essential skill to have. You might want to be the kind of journalist that can do it all, kudos to you for that. But, I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to have a few select skills and being really good at them. If you are honest with yourself and honest with employers I think you can definitely learn an array of skills that suit you and your job. We have options, and that is a great thing. Happy times, indeed.
Note: This is only a brief excerpt from the first few days of this conversation. Much more was said, including more back and forth between Lena, Rose and myself about skills and how to present yourself to employers and from Bora, Lena, Rose and Dan Fagin (@danfagin) about the structure of jschool programs and the balance needed to meet students needs. Still plenty more to say about these topics!
This conversation took place before we started the hashtag #sci4hels to mark all of the tweets. Be sure to monitor the hashtag in the future to see more of the on going discussion between Kathleen, Lena, Rose, Bora, myself and others!