About Amy Mathews Amos

Amy is a part-time media outreach specialist for COMPASS, with broad professional experience at the interface of environmental science and public policy. When not pounding away at the computer, she spends as much time as possible outside hiking, kayaking, and wildlife-watching.

Scientists And Journalists: Two Sides Of The Communication Coin

Amy (with Nancy Baron) at our 2015 Staff Retreat.

A few years ago, in one of my science writing classes at Johns Hopkins University, a guest speaker shared one of her most regrettable moments as a science journalist. She was a writer at the respected magazine Science News, and several years previously had covered a high-profile paper published in a top journal. Dutifully, she included in her story some of the figures from the paper that captured the essence of the findings. Only later did she (and others in the scientific and journalism communities) learn that those figures contained an error – one that obviously had slipped past the peer reviewers. She was mortified. “I should have checked the math myself,” she told the class. Printing something that was untrue was one of the worst sins she could have committed in her view; even though she had accurately reflected the findings published in the peer-reviewed paper.

As a new student in science journalism – after a long career in environmental science and policy – the incident was a revelation for me: I realized how much scientists and journalists are alike. Accuracy is critical to both them, and it forms the cornerstone of their professional life, namely, credibility. [Read more…]

Mining Science for Stories: The Value of Journalist Fellows at the Society for Marine Mammalogy Meeting 2015 (#MARMAM15)

The SMM 2015 COMPASS Journalist Fellows introduce themselves to the conference. Photo by COMPASS staff.

What happens when you offer an opportunity for 14 journalists to rub shoulders with 2,500 scientists at the world’s premier conference of marine mammal science? To aid and abet connections between them, we designed opportunities for the scientists and journalists to interact and engage so that journalists could find great stories to share with the wider world. But how do you measure the value of an effort like this? [Read more…]