A very nice surprise greeted me this morning on the local page of my AP News iPhone app: an interview in the News & Observer with Dr. Misha Angrist of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy by freelance journalist, T. DeLene Beeland (also on Twitter @tdelene).
Angrist is perhaps best-known as the fourth of the first 10 people whose genome was sequenced for George Church’s Personal Genome Project. Not surprisingly, his work focuses on the societal implications of the personal genomics movement and what knowing one’s DNA sequence means today and will mean in the future. We last wrote about Misha here when he was featured in the News & Observer in November 2008.
Angrist also does a billion other things such as playing guitar in the band Sea Cow and writing narrative nonfiction. In fact, I learned from DeLene’s interview that Misha has a book coming out this fall entitled, “Here is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics.” He also teaches a Duke University class called Science and the Media where he regularly invites me, Bora Zivkovic, and Sheril Kirshenbaum to hold forth once a year on science blogging. And as you might note from the title of this post, Angrist writes the blog, Genome Boy.
Most noteworthy from a journalistic standpoint is that this interview appears as part of a new Science & Technology feature of newspapers owned by The McClatchy Company in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina. Edited by science writer, Sarah Avery, the Science & Technology section features regional developments in the academic and business communities and employs freelance writers such as Beeland and Cassie Rodenberg (@cassierodenberg) to tell these stories. I love my freelance colleagues, of course, but the Science & Technology section was launched at the same time as some staff cuts at the McClatchy papers – so while I applaud the focus and the work this sends to my colleagues, I’m also saddened that this model contributes to more free agency where more writers must pay for their own health care.
Also of interest to me is that here we have a dead tree publication featuring science bloggers which, I believe, was the idea of DeLene Beeland herself. Very cool.
But what I don’t understand is why McClatchy doesn’t have hyperlinks in the online version of the article (see here). No links to Misha’s blog, no links to Misha’s faculty webpage, no links to the Personal Genome Project – why? These omissions defeat the purpose of having the story online.
If McClatchy doesn’t want to muss up the copy, it wouldn’t kill them to put useful links at the end of the story. Here’s how one might do it:
Finally, I find it sad that neither of the newspapers promotes the Science & Technology section on its frontpage. I can’t find it at all on the Charlotte Observer’s homepage without doing a search. The Raleigh News & Observer homepage is only slightly better, requiring that I go from the Home tab to the News tab, then selecting Health/Science.
I certainly don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. But science and technology are one of the major economic engines of the state of North Carolina, with many universities and companies recognized nationally and internationally.
So if N&O and Charlotte Observer editors are listening: one shouldn’t have to dig through multiple layers of the homepage to get to this excellent new feature.