My past month at Refraction Media has been an enlightening experience. Working with Heather Catchpole, Heather Curry and Karen Taylor has not only exposed me to the production process at an Australian publisher, but has given me the chance to cover subjects I had not yet written about. Refraction is a highly regarded publisher that specialises in content concerning science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). With so many connections to the STEM community, working for Refraction enabled me to write about some of Australia’s most exciting innovators. As a student journalist, I was given the invaluable opportunity to interview and write about highly regarded scientists and researchers.
Over the course of my journalism career I have covered mostly environmental health and ecology stories. Some career highlights have included an investigative piece on the working conditions of nail salon technicians in New York City, a feature story on urban biodiversity in Manhattan’s Central Park and a profile on archeologist Mark Aldenderfer of the Explorer’s Club.
At Refraction, I interviewed Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) CEO Mark Hodge on receiving the CRC Award for Excellence in Innovation 2015 for the DMTC’s work on boron carbide ceramic armour technology. Another interesting piece I worked on was the development of a psychosocial assessment app by Sally Bradford, an early career researcher at the Young and Well CRC, who won top prize at the CRC Association Early Career Research Showcase at the CRCA’s Excellence in Innovation Awards Dinner in Canberra.
Bradford’s ‘MyAssessment app’ was trialled at headspace in Canberra and has proven to greatly increase mental health disclosure rates among young people. Writing copy and being part of the production process for Refraction’s Science Meets Business website exposed me to a particular editing style and working to deadlines.
I was drawn to science communication by the range of topics that are covered, and the ability to write as an advocate. In US media, there are generally two sides represented and carefully moderated for a balanced viewpoint. However with science communication, when the facts are laid out and presented, they can lean heavily towards one side of the discussion. Therefore science communicators have the ability to side with evidence and take a stand on scientific and geological issues like climate change and species extinction. Not only do these stories span the globe and affect people from all walks of life, they are critical to understanding humanity’s effect on the planet.
– Kara Norton