Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Who writes Science and Technology at the Economist?

  • Update June 2014: this post is getting a little out of date. Please refer to this page. 

  • Updated July 2012: Although I no longer work in the Science and Technology section, this post is pretty popular so I thought I would update the names to reflect the current situation in the science department.

N.L. Chicago, July 2012.

San Diego, 23rd Febuary 2010

A lot of journalists come to the AAAS meeting every year. And when I am faced with a lot of other journalists, I get asked a lot of the same questions about The Economist. I thought I'd answer a few of them.

Who writes what in the Science section?

Such a question is understandable. The issue of who writes what is opaque, because we write anonymously. (More about this subject is in this document.) But just because we write without bylines does not mean we are secretive about what we write, or who writes about what.

You can always ask to be put in touch with the author of an article by calling the office, or you can use the Media Directory to find out who writes about what. There is even a web form which you can use to contact individual writers.

If you were to sift through this online directory, you could easily work out who does what so this is breaking no confidences. But before I go further, may I please ask that if you work for one of those dreadful media disks, please don't put our names on without asking first. For those uninitiated into the world of public relations, there are a number of companies that compile the names and contact details of every journalist on the planet, along with the things they are supposed to be interested in.

The end result is that anyone who buys the disk can send mass mail outs of their inane press releases to journalists. Its essentially a form of high-grade spam. It may be that for every hundred people who use such disks there is one legitimate person who just wants to get in touch with something appropriate, but the signal-to-noise ratio is so high with these disks that I always ask to be removed.

Who writes the Science and Technology at the Economist?
Geoffrey Carr, is the science editor, when he isn't editing he has particular interests in human evolution, genomics, biotechnology, AIDS, malaria and evolution.

Paul Markillie writes about technology, and writes about cars in our wonderful consumer magazine Intelligent Life, and stands in for Geoff when he is away.

Tim Cross, science and technology correspondent

Jan Piotrowski, science and technology correspondent

Charlotte Howard, our healthcare correspondent, covers medicine as well as the pharma industry for the business section)

James Astill, our energy and environment editor, covers climate change and other environment stories, and our online column green.view

Tom Standage, business affairs editor and editor of Technology Quarterly supplement

In addition to the writers mentioned we have a network of freelancers, correspondents and stringers around the world who contribute.

Similarly, science and technology section writers may write for other sections of the paper, such as Business (Robert Guest), International (Bruce Clark), or United States (Chris Lockwood).

Do you hire freelancers?
Some. But we don't pay well. For Science you should offer us things that are not in the main journals, and if there is a press release you should add value to this in some way with a new angle or piece of information that has not been used or picked up on. You should keep an eye on the kind of things that we write about if you want to pitch successfully.

Please don't email me pitches, I only edit from time-to-time and I prefer not to regularly receive pitches about things that I may decide to write on. Pitches should go to the science editor.

Do you mind writing anonymously?
No, or I wouldn't work here.

But doesn't it bother you, not getting a byline?