Wherever you are in your career—novice, developing, or established—The Open Notebook’s Science Journalism Master Classes will help you sharpen your ability to find and vet story ideas, craft effective pitches, report and write impactful stories, collaborate with editors, and more. Each Science Journalism Master Class drills into one skill or habit, presented in a series of five to eight lessons, delivered by email. You’ll have daily (brief) homework assignments, and at the end of each course, you’ll come away with greater mastery of your craft. And our Science Journalism Master Classes are free, thanks to a generous grant from The Kavli Foundation. You can sign up for our courses at any time and get started immediately—there’s no set start date. You’ll receive a welcome email immediately, and lessons will be delivered starting the next weekday, continuing until the course concludes. (We recommend that you sign up for one course at a time.)
To create our Master Classes series, we’ve teamed up with Emily Laber-Warren, who heads the Health & Science Reporting program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Emily’s lessons draw not only on her classroom experience but on insights from the many science journalists who have shared their work processes with The Open Notebook over the years through hundreds of articles on craft, writer interviews, annotations of notable stories, and our “Ask TON” advice column.
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(If after signing up for a course you don’t see a welcome email within a few minutes, check your spam/junk/trash folder and, if you use Gmail, your promotions tab. If that doesn’t work, please email Siri Carpenter at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you set up.)
How to Find an Angle for Any Science Story
Angles are the secret sauce of journalism. Identifying them can be tricky even for the most experienced science reporters. Each day during this free course, we present a concrete, achievable strategy for identifying, sharpening, and vetting story angles. By the end of the course, you will have delved into a topic that interests you in a variety of ways calculated to pinpoint a novel, pitchable angle. Students can expect to spend about 30-60 minutes per day on this six-day course, including time spent doing the daily homework. After signing up, you’ll receive a welcome email immediately, and lessons will be delivered starting the next weekday.
Ideas are a science journalist’s currency. And the pitch is the vehicle for those ideas. In this free course, you’ll learn the seven key components of a pitch, how much reporting you need to do up front, how to identify the right publication for your story and tailor your pitch accordingly, how to communicate with an editor, and what to do when a pitch gets rejected. To get the most out of this class, you should already have a story idea that you’re ready to pitch. (If you’re still working on that, you might consider starting with the course listed just above, “How to Find an Angle for Any Science Story.”) By the end of the course, you will have developed a solid pitch that’s ready to send to an editor. Students can expect to spend about 30-60 minutes per day on this eight-day course, including time spent doing the daily homework. After signing up, you’ll receive a welcome email immediately, and lessons will be delivered starting the next weekday.
How to Spot Scientific Hype and Misinformation
The scientific process is inherently messy, full of uncertainty, and subject to distortion and hype. This free course will teach you to recognize telltale signs of hype and distortion, spot the most common kinds of statistical trickery, assess the quality of scientific evidence, and recognize when sources have financial conflicts of interest. By the end of the course, you will have honed your scientific B.S. detector and discovered critical-thinking tools that will make you a savvier science journalist. Students can expect to spend about 30 minutes per day on this six-day course, including time spent doing the daily homework. After signing up, you’ll receive a welcome email immediately, and lessons will be delivered starting the next weekday.
Science Journalism Master Classes logo and course images by Marina Muun.