What People Are Saying

“No one else is doing what The Open Notebook is doing: They’re taking a hard look at the process behind exemplary pieces of science journalism and, through frank, in-depth conversations with the authors themselves, helping all science journalists improve their craft.” ~ Michelle Nijhuis, project editor at The Atlantic, contributor to National GeographicThe New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker‘s Elements blog



“The Open Notebook represents the community that every writer needs and not enough of us get to find: an honest, ethical, open-hearted group who share their best advice so that everyone can rise. The founders had the vision to imagine the site and the courage to trust that others felt the same hunger for online science writing learning. They’ve been rewarded over and over again with the generosity of writers who share their pitches, process and even their rates of pay to the benefit of all.” ~ Maryn McKenna, journalist for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, NPR, and other publications, and author of Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats



The Open Notebook is truly the freelancer’s friend. Wondering about the amount of editing you’re getting? Check TON. Wondering what a successful pitch to a particular outlet looks like? TON‘s got the answer. Wondering about pay rates, how your favorite journalist put a story together, how to negotiate higher pay, how to blog, what makes a good essay? TON,TON,TON,TON, andTON. (Sounds like a song!) TON is doing St. Francis de Sales’ work (he’s the patron saint of journalists), creating a community that makes lonely freelancers feel less lonely, and more empowered.” ~ Joanne Silberner, London-based freelance reporter and former correspondent for National Public Radio



“I wish The Open Notebook had been around when I was just starting out as a science journalist. The whole process of science writing can seem mystifying at first, from finding ideas and sources to organizing material and telling a compelling story. TON demystifies that process by providing an ever-expanding repository of tips, lessons, and insights from some of the best in the business—for free! Anytime new writers ask me for advice, I point them to TON.” ~ Liza Gross, journalist and author of The Science Writers’ Investigative Reporting Handbook



“The Open Notebook offers not only a wealth of resources, it provides community to science writers at every stage of their career. TON embodies generosity. By reading the site’s expert and timely articles, we can become better storytellers together.” ~ Tiên Nguyễn, freelance science journalist



“Writing is a lonely art. The vast majority of the process, from coming up with ideas to structuring a piece, is carried out in solitude. When you start out, you barely have a clue about what you’re doing, let alone what seasoned professionals get up to. Getting those pros to deconstruct their own methods for all to see is a massive boon to aspiring science writers.” ~ Ed Yong, Pulitzer Prize–winning science writer at The Atlantic



“When I discovered The Open Notebook as a newbie engineer-turned-science-writer from India, struggling to understand the nuances of science writing, I was blown over by the wealth of resources that were free! Reading each of those carefully curated articles, written by writers from all over the world, has helped me become a better science journalist. If there is a way to democratize science writing, TON has shown us how to do it, and I hope it will continue to guide many like me.” ~ Spoorthy Raman, freelance science journalist


“I recommend The Open Notebook to every writer, not just science journalists. Their story dissections are amazing, their pitch database is a goldmine, and their profiles of other writers are the best way to score insider tips and/or feel less alone in the struggle.” ~ Nicola Twilley, Co-host of the Gastropod podcast, co-author of Until Proven Safe: The History & Future of Quarantine, and frequent contributor to The New Yorker



“As a Mexican science writer, I owe The Open Notebook my early education in journalism; it was instrumental in my transition from science to science writing. TON has been there for me in every step of my career. Reading TON every Tuesday provides a confirming, emotional support every science writer needs.” ~ Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, reporter, Science magazine


“Proper praise for The Open Notebook would first observe how essential good science writing is to a functioning democracy, and how few resources exist to develop it. It would then note how TON‘s emergence from out of the blue as the hub that I and every other science writer I respect gather at to discuss our stories and hone our skills underscores its uncanny sense of how to fill that need. But if you really want to know my favorite thing about TON, it is the selfish pleasure of having a fellow-science writer ask me questions about a process that I labor over and the realization that there is a sizable audience interested in the answers. TON contributor David Dobbs did a Q&A with me about my story about a young man with autism seeking independence: in the months since that story ran, I have spoken about it at perhaps a dozen science journalism classes—and ALL of the students have read the Q&A. I’ve discussed it with colleagues after editors at The Times posted the link on our internal Web site, and I often point readers who email with questions about the story to TON, where they have already been answered.” ~ Amy Harmon, Pulitzer Prize–winning national correspondent for The New York Times



The Open Notebook has become a science journalism textbook.” ~ Carl Zimmer, author, journalist for The New York Times, Scientific American, National GeographicDiscover, and others



The Open Notebook is an incredibly generous project, a gift to the science writer community. The TON interviewers pick some of the most innovative and engaging recent science features and ask writers just the right questions. Everyone involved—the TON creators, the interviewers, the writers who reveal their methods—is helping teach the rest of us a master class in science writing.” ~ Laura Helmuth, editor-in-chief, Scientific American, and past president of the National Association of Science Writers



The Open Notebook provides a valuable resource for science writers. The sample pitch letters, essays on craft and writer interviews offer readers a peek behind the scenes.” ~ Christie Aschwanden, author of Good to Go and contributor to The New York Times, Slate, Men’s Journal, the Oprah Magazine, Runner’s World, and the blog Last Word on Nothing



The Open Notebook has been a trusted guide to me throughout my career: I consulted it for advice when I was a science student thinking about transitioning to journalism, I pored over the pitch database for help writing my first magazine pitches, and now I delight in reading the craft features and Storygrams as one of my main sources of professional development. I have also written a few stories for The Open Notebook, and the process is always a pleasure. Other writers are delighted to be interviewed and contribute what they can to a beloved institution; the editorial process is thorough, efficient, and friendly; and Open Notebook writers are compensated well. I can’t praise The Open Notebook highly enough—I don’t know what I would do without it! ” ~ Mallory Pickett, freelance journalist


“As I’ve transitioned from academia into writing full-time, The Open Notebook has been the resource I turn to—time and again—to teach myself all I’d never learned about storytelling, pitching, structuring. Storygrams regularly make a student out of me —I read every annotation, learning what I can from the choices writers and editors make, trying to reverse engineer how the writer got from raw data to narrative. I’m deeply appreciative.” ~ Rebecca Altman, writer and environmental sociologist



“The Open Notebook is an invaluable resource for serious science journalists. In addition to offering tips on everything you need to know about producing first-rate science journalism, from conducting interviews with recalcitrant subjects to shaping pitches into marketable stories and paring down that 24,000 word opus to a more manageable size, The Open Notebook serves as a virtual newsroom, providing a sense of community and camaraderie at a time when so many of us are either working remotely or freelancing.” ~ Linda Marsa, contributing editor for Discover and author of Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Harm Our Health


“I never went to journalism school so I can’t say for sure, but The Open Notebook strikes me as an ongoing journalism seminar as valuable as any you might find there. The best way to learn about journalistic storytelling—besides writing stories—is by taking great narratives apart. The Open Notebook goes a step further, taking us back to the pitch letter, the assignment, and everything it took to get a big piece landed. The focus may be on science, but the lessons found here can be applied to any story.” ~ Evan Ratliff, founder and editor of The Atavist and contributor to WiredThe New YorkerNational Geographic, and other magazines



“From the moment I set eyes on The Open Notebook, I regretted that I was no longer teaching science writing. I harbored this regret because I would have used it in a blink … the web site contains invaluable lessons on understanding and interpreting science, delivered by highly talented professionals.” ~ Holly Stocking, retired science writing professor at Indiana University in Bloomington and author, with the writers of The New York Times, of The New York Times Reader: Science & Technology



“The value of The Open Notebook goes way beyond the practical tips and advice that I find there. To me, it is an endless source of inspiration, encouraging me to perfect my writing and to find better ways to do my job. I particularly enjoy the profiles as a way to learn how the best in the business practice their craft. I’m a better science writer because of The Open Notebook”. ~ Jeff Grabmeier, director of research news at Ohio State University



The Open Notebook illuminates science writing—and by that I mean excellent science writing—like no other resource available today. Here you’ll find some of the best writers in the profession explaining everything from the technique to the research methods that help create a great story. In fact, TON‘s exploration of outstanding writing is so incisive that I use it in all my writing classes. It helps professor as well as student understand the craft.” ~ Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize–winning author, journalist, and director of Knight Science Journalism at MIT



“Nothing beats the experience of finally reporting and writing the big story. But reading The Open Notebook is a close second. Peeking behind—way behind—the curtain at big-time outlets like The New York Times Magazine and DiscoverThe Open Notebook is a beacon and a reality check for freelance writers of all kinds—especially science journalists. For hustling freelancers, nothing replaces the valuable intelligence of learning how a publication operates and what types of stories they need…Seeing pitch letters and drafts of award–winning long-form science writing? I’ve never seen that before—The Open Notebook is a unique resource.” ~ Brian Vastag, Washington Post science reporter



I consider myself lucky that The Open Notebook launched right as I started to pursue a career in science writing. Its pitch database, Storygrams, interviews and in-depth articles on the craft of science writing proved invaluable as I tried to break into the field, and I continue to rely on these resources for help and encouragement. Whenever anyone asks me for advice on science writing, I recommend they first check out The Open Notebook. ~ Sandeep Ravindran, freelance science journalist and treasurer of the National Association of Science Writers



“It’s almost like therapy, telling Jeanne and Siri the true (and sometimes maddening) story of what really went on behind the scenes with one of your articles. And they put it all together, with annotations, in a way that makes for chewy reading for everyone, novice and old-timer alike.” ~ Robin Marantz Henig, author and contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine



“The Open Notebook is the Paris Review of science journalism.” ~ David Dobbs, author and contributor to The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and others



“Each time I visit the site, they surprise me with fantastic interviews with a broad range of science writers from every medium. They go to the top-tier writers and ask them questions that we all wonder about but never have the time, guts, opportunity to ask them ourselves…I am always asking writers to dig deeper and get more from their sources; to move their piece from superficial to contextual and insightful. The writers that are featured in The Open Notebook talk about how they make the effort to do just that.” ~ Cori Vanchieri, Science News features editor



“Most websites on media focus on ephemera: Who’s in, who’s out, mergers, layoffs, and corporate gossip. The Open Notebook is a rare, shining exception. Aiming to serve as a kind of ars journalistica for working science writers, the site lays bare the elements of craft that determine a story’s lasting impact. By interviewing those who have distinguished themselves in the fields of science reporting, feature writing, blogging, and multimedia, The Open Notebook transcends hackneyed print vs. digital dichotomies to deliver tips, advice, and food for thought that can be directly put into practice in today’s hyper-competitive freelance environment. The site also offers something that’s harder to define but just as essential: a sense of collective ethics and joy in our hard work. I love The Open Notebook.” ~ Steve Silberman, journalist and author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity



“I’ve been a science journalist for more than 20 years, and I can unequivocally say that The Open Notebook is an invaluable resource for reporters and writers in our profession. Nowhere else can science journalists get the inside story on how to do our jobs better in this changing journalistic landscape.” ~ Alexandra Witze, correspondent for Nature, contributing editor for Science News, and author of Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of Laki, the Volcano that Turned 18th-Century Europe Dark



“I often tell my students to think about what they’d like to be doing five years from now, find people who are doing that thing, and figure out how they got there. The Open Notebook is a great archive of all of those tales, told assignment by assignment … I recommend the site to science writers at every stage of their careers.” ~ Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch and instructor of medical journalism at New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program



The Open Notebook takes the mysticism out of great writing, showing how others have solved their seemingly intractable problems and gives me escape strategies to try the next time I encounter a wall blocking my writing.” ~ Tina SaeyScience News medical science reporter



“It’s so educational to peer into the heads and processes of other science writers. We may have informal discussions about some of these topics online or in person at meetings, but that’s not nearly as informative as probing into the working habits, frustrations, and trouble-shooting setbacks for specific writers and their pieces.” ~ Kendall Powell, freelance science writer and contributor to the Los Angeles Times, HHMI Bulletin, Nature, and others


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