science writing, backpack journalism and mobile media


This is your landing page for Science WRITING AND BACKPACK JOURNALISM

Please add it to your mobile phone home screen and bookmark.

Also, please bookmark this group journal, which will have notes and more info throughout the trimester.



Week 1:

The Transformation of Text in Science Communication

Listen to the Conversation Starter HERE

Read and comment on the Conversation starter HERE

Webinar: 31st Jan, 730pm GMT [RECORDING HERE]

For your formative task, we’re going to start building a website. Here’s a starting point, if you’d like to try Wordpress

We begin this module by talking about the powerful ways in which the concept of textuality has changed in recent years. Consider a newspaper, one of the earliest forms of professional journalism. As a means of communication, newspapers have gone through many changes in recent years and we’ll consider what such changes mean for how we think about journalism, examining some of the deep, philosophical questions it asks us to consider.

A great introduction to these changes is found in the following video. Please watch it before our webinar and come along prepared to discuss.



Deuze, M. (2005) What is Journalism? Professional Identity and Ideology of Journalists Reconsidered, Journalism Theory, Practice and Criticism, 6(4) 442-464.

See also

Borel, B. (2015) The problem with science journalism: we’ve forgotten that reality matters most, The Guardian

John W. Huffman (1963) The time has come; a Catholic doctor's proposals to end the battle over birth control, JAMA

Shepherd Mpofu (2019) Art as Journalism in Zimbabwe, Journalism Studies, 20:1, 60-78, DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2017.1358652

Shirkey, C. (2008) Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Penguin Books.


Week 2:

Digital Design in Science Communication

Conversation Starter: Here on SoundCloud


Understanding how to engage people online requires coming to terms with key principles in user experience design and science journalists have developed very different formats for different platforms. This week, we’ll examine and discuss key principles in digital design, focused on the rise of mobile platforms, while thinking about what the future of digital design looks like.



Week 3:

The Backpack Journalist and New Roles in Journalism

Conversation Starter: In Group Journal


Central to the shift taking place in journalism today is the rise of mobile media and the capacity to function as a production studio while on the move. This week, we examine the consequences of the expansion of journalism into citizen journalism, the impact of professional quality technologies on the kinds of content that are made, and the new kinds of communities that exist which champion the values of open media.


Way back when citizen journalism was taking off, I became involved with a project to democratise the Olympic narrative around the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games through citizen journalism. We’ll talk more about this during the week, but take a look at this chapter from a feature length film called ‘With Glowing Hearts’, which puts the journey of citizen journalists into a tangible context…

There are also some great examples of ‘Tactical Media’ out there, such as this from the Yes men

but did their intervention work? This research says it may have backfired.


Baraniuk, C. (2016) Citizen journalism is playing a crucial role in Aleppo – but it comes at a cost, Wired

Temperton, C. (2017, August) Citizen journalism is broken and this startup has a plan to fix it


Adi, A. & Miah, A. (2011) Open Source Protest: Human Rights, Online Activism, and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, in Cottle, S. & Lester, L. Transnational Protests and the Media. Peter Lang, 213-224

Allen, S. and Thorsen, E. (2009) Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives.Peter Lang Press

Citizen Journalism Educational Trust

Miah, A. & Garcia, B. (2008) We Are The Media’: Non-Accredited Media & Citizen Journalists at the Olympic Games. In Price, M. & Dayan, D. (2008) Owning the Olympics: Narratives of the New China, University of Michigan Press.

Miah, A. (2011) New Media, in Bainbridge, W.S.J. (Ed) Leadership in Science and Technology. SAGE Reference

Miah, A. (2011) Web 2.0: Mashing Up Work & Leisure. In: Bramham, P. & Wagg, S. The New Politics of Leisure & Pleasure. Palgrave. 136-152

Zimmer, C. A Note to Beginning Science Writers


Week 4:

How mobile Media has Transformed the Communication Ecosystem

Conversation Starter: HERE

Webinar :

This week, we’ll discuss trends in mobile design, innovations in mobile technology, and the impact of these on the wider culture of journalism that surrounds the sharing of news.


AAAS (2015) Tips from Science Journalists

Best Shortform Science Writing: January-March (2017)


Beckett, C. & Ball, J. (2012) Wikileaks: News in the Networked Era. Polity Press.

Albeanu, C. (2017, Aug 3) Throwback Thursday: Citizen journalism, social media reporting and more media news of the past,


Week 5:

New Formats of Digital Experience (including VR, Drones)

Conversation Starter: HERE

Webinar Recording:

The practice of journalism - and storytelling more widely - has always been interested in creative technologies. With each iteration of the media, new formats have emerged making possible new kinds of expression. This week, we’ll examine how journalists are using such environments as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, drones to advance the practice of journalism, creating new opportunities to immerse people into compelling stories about science.



Week 6:

Disruptive Media and Participatory Culture

Webinar: 7th March, 730pm GMT


While there is no singular way in which we can describe the media industries, there is common ground in the manner in which media content disrupts society. Sometimes, these disruptions can bring dramatic social changes, such as holding politicians to account, exposing vast conspiracies, but some of the most disruptive practices within the media have arisen through creating cultures of participation, where an expanded population take on the role of journalist to ensure an important message is heard. This week, we examine the potential of creative technology to bring about social change in science communication, consider what needs to happen next to make a major difference.



Boler, M. (Ed.) (2008) Digital media and democracy : tactics in hard times Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press


The Assessment


A few essentials

Please check the full Assessment Brief in the module handbook for further details, but here are some key points…

Deadline: Tuesday 30 April 2019, 4pm.

Your assessed work will consist of 4 elements:

  • A Website

  • Hypershort - Single Tweet (text and images)

  • Short form - Instagram Story (6 images with text) (submit as a single pdf document using screenshots of each card)

  • Feature Length - 800 words (Conversation style)

Marks for your assessment will be allocated based on the following criteria:

Professionalism of the Portfolio (0-20 marks)
(all elements)

Relevance to science communication (0-20 marks)
(specifically the hypershort & short form elements)

Engagement with Media Change & Trends (0-30 marks)
(specifically the Feature length piece)

Evidence of critical reflection (0-20 marks)
(specifically the feature length piece)

Referencing (0-10 marks)
(specifically the feature length piece)

How to submit

We’d like you to do two things to submit your work. Please bear in mind first that one of the learning outcomes of the module is for you to have your own, established online presence. So, we’d like to make the submission as organic as possible to enable this. As such, the assessment components can all be pasted into your website and you can submit a document with links to these components. However, we’d ask you also to make a single pdf of all elements and submit that too. At the start of the PDF, you may include urls of the individual elements, to best showcase your work. The PDF functions as a back up in case anything goes wrong with your site, but also is a nice portfolio, which you can look back on. More detailed guidance will be given during the module.