TON Collaborates with Knight Science Journalism at MIT

Dear TON readers,

We’re thrilled to announce that The Open Notebook has entered into a new funding collaboration with Knight Science Journalism at MIT. Over the next year, KSJ will provide TON with $60,000 in funding, allowing us to build substantially on the resources we offer to science journalists. We couldn’t be prouder to call KSJ our flagship supporter.

KSJ-RGB-stdWe launched TON in October 2010. At first our aim was narrow: We planned to publish a series of occasional interviews with writers whose work we admired, in hopes of stealing all their best tricks. But our initial “story behind the story” interviews got us hooked. A generous grant from the National Association of Science Writers in 2011 helped us expand our vision, allowing us to both hire guest contributors and tackle new ideas. In the last four-and-a-half years, with continued support from NASW and more recently through a partnership with the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, which sponsors our fellowship program, we’ve published some 60 in-depth interviews with some of the most talented science writers working today. We’ve also published about 45 features on specific elements of the craft of science journalism, from finding and pitching story ideas to taking good notes to landing grants and fellowships. Dozens of writers and editors have lent guidance to comrades via our advice column, Ask TON, and our series of one-minute videos, Single Best. And many others have contributed query letters to our Pitch Database, which now contains 80 successful pitches. Several dozen intrepid souls have allowed TON readers a glimpse into their workspaces and daily routines via our Natural Habitat and A Day in the Life series.

Since 2010, almost half a million people from almost every country in the world (hello, whoever you are in Tajikistan!) have visited TON. Even more gratifying, almost 5,000 of you have visited more than 200 times—we’re glad you keep coming back.

Our initial idea for TON was driven by our own curiosity and need, but it has developed into a mission for science journalism more broadly. We strongly believe that high-quality science journalism remains as essential as ever, even amidst the upheaval our field has experienced in recent years. Creating outstanding stories requires journalists with the skills to recognize and sharpen ideas, ask incisive questions, provide critical and nuanced analysis of complex subjects, make ethical decisions, and tell accurate, compelling stories. The Open Notebook aims to help science journalists sharpen those skills.

KSJ’s support will transform that effort from a passion project into a truly sustainable organization. Over the next year, we intend to begin building a more comprehensive set of resources that can benefit science journalists at all levels of experience. We’ll also, for the first time, pay ourselves for our work writing and editing stories, getting them published, and generally keeping the trains running on time. KSJ will have the opportunity to cross-post the stories the program funds, bringing the wisdom of the science-journalism crowd to a wider audience. Although our editorial plans are still in development, you can expect more in-depth writer interviews, more deeply reported features on specific aspects of the craft of science journalism, and some new projects as well.

Thank you, KSJ, for putting your trust in TON.


This is us. We are smiling.
This is us. We are smiling. Siri Carpenter; Jeanne Erdmann


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