Illuminating basic science and math research through public service journalism.
That's the slogan and mission statement of Quanta Magazine, which I was honored to join as a deputy editor in April 2017. Quanta is an editorially independent online publication launched in 2012 by the Simons Foundation to enhance public understanding of science. Our reporters focus on developments in mathematics, theoretical physics, theoretical computer science and the basic life sciences. Overseeing the coverage of the last of those — the life sciences — is my primary responsibility.
I was drawn to Quanta by its appealing, consistent excellence, but also by several challenges it represented. First, its founders decided to restrict its franchise to basic science and the theoretical rather than the applied because there is already an abundance of good, enjoyable journalism on applied science and technology, on health and medicine, on the cute and accessible. Quanta puts other deserving research in the limelight — research that usually gets overlooked because it can frankly be harder to explain and justify to non-specialists. That's a gauntlet we experienced science writers and editors should dare to pick up.
Second, on many occasions I've decried the problems with pack journalism and embargoed stories spoonfed to reporters by the professional journals, and I've called on my fellow editors and reporters to think more creatively and broaden our conception of what defines science news. Quanta gives me a chance to walk the talk.
Third, Quanta is committed to strong storytelling and the use of narrative as a tool for enhancing readers' understanding of science. That's something I love as a reader, and I cherish the chance to put it into practice as an editor and writer there.
Moreover, my addition to Quanta's staff coincides with a planned general expansion of the editorial content. Until now, no one at Quanta has been able to give the vast, rich life sciences the kind of attention that they deserve. I'm excited to be able to help define what the coverage of the life sciences in this excellent magazine will be.
Read along and let's see how I do.