One of the many unfortunate consequences of the decline in traditional media has been a reduction in science reporting. The formerly great CNN science unit closed in 2008, followed soon after by the health and science page of the Boston Globe. Alarmingly few trained science journalists are left, and people without proper training are being asked to cover the few science stories that still make it on the air ( I was once interviewed about shark research by the weatherman from CNN’s “American Morning”). With few exceptions, science and conservation stories are no longer considered a priority to the major news networks and newspapers. However, science is no less important to our everyday lives.
As bloggers, we are blissfully free to write about the topics of our choice without an editor telling us that we only have 3 minutes to discuss overfishing so that a story about Kim Kardashian’s wedding can air. As professional marine scientists, we know all too well what’s going on in the oceans, and we know all too well what important stories aren’t being reported by the mainstream media. We consider it both a duty and a privilege to give our readers in-depth analysis of a variety of underrepresented issues in marine science and conservation.
Just because research doesn’t come with a press release and embargo doesn’t mean that it isn’t critically important to understanding and protecting our oceans. We’re proud to have written about conservation issues surrounding such diverse marine life as krill, menhaden, orange roughy, sea otters, and sandbar sharks, among many others. We’re proud to be among the only media coverage of thorny skates being denied Endangered Species Act protections, and of the disappointing result of an important international fisheries management meeting. We’re proud to have explained so many threats to the ocean, including detailed coverage of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, destructive fishing methods, pharmaceutical products from our wastewater, altered sea turtle sex ratios as a result of climate change, deep sea mining, and viruses released into the wild as a result of aquaculture.
If there’s a new discovery about the oceans, we’ll cover it regardless of whether the mainstream media considers it headline news. While we’ll never have the resources of the mainstream media, blogs like Southern Fried Science have become a great resource for adding details to the conservation and science stories that make the news, and for detailed reporting of those that don’t.