Old Journalism Meets New Journalism!

by Dana Mackenzie on November 21, 2012

Today I had the privilege of being interviewed for a science podcast called Strongly Connected Components, moderated by Samuel Hansen. “Strongly Connected Components” focuses mostly on mathematics (in fact, the name is a mathematical term), and a typical episode consists of one minimally edited, half-hour interview.

I tend to give very long answers, so poor Sam only had time to ask four or five questions in this whole episode! However, he commented at one point that I had just succeeded in answering three of his questions at once. He thought it was interesting how I managed to anticipate the questions he wanted to ask. I have been in the interviewer’s seat many times, so I know what it’s like to try to coax interesting answers out of somebody. I guess that experience has made me a pretty good interviewee.

Some of the topics we talked about were why I became a math writer, what I mean by “stealth math,” and of course, how I managed to write a book about equations.

At the end of the podcast we talked about the difference between old journalism and new journalism — “old” being traditional articles in print magazines, books, etc., and “new” being the media of blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and so on. I told him that I think he is part of a future whose exact contours we can’t quite make out yet. He pointed out, actually in our e-mail correspondence before the interview, that one of the big differences between the “old” and “new” media is that I get paid for what I do, but he doesn’t. So he has to work very hard to obtain the financial resources to keep his program going.

In fact (what a segue!) right now Samuel has a Kickstarter fund drive going, in which he is trying to raise $34,000 to make his podcast into an actual full-time job. He has done 49 interviews over four years on a somewhat sporadic basis, between his other part-time jobs. If the drive is successful, he will be able to put out new episodes on a regular schedule, one interview every two weeks and 24 over the next year.  If you enjoy his interview with me, and if you like the idea of enabling scientists to speak directly to the public, please consider supporting this unique resource with a donation.

I admire Sam’s courage and entrepreneurial spirit, and I wish him luck!

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