Futurity Swears It’s Not Trying To Replace Journalists

Frustrated with the decline of science journalism, with entire news outlets cutting their science reporting staff wholesale, thirty-five of the country’s top universities have launched their own science news site.

Futurity.org showcases press releases and stories written by staff at the schools about the universities’ research. CJR investigates:

stories receive light editing in order to make them appealing to lay readers, but undergo no additional reporting. Moreover, Murphy emphasized the Futurity puts a lot of work into “presentation” and crafting an attractive Web site.

Indeed, with widespread cuts to science sections and staffs in print and television, a number of organizations have launched similar endeavors, from the National Science Foundation’s Science 360 Web site to the independent Science Daily site. However, all of them provoke the same criticism from journalists, who worry about the implications of bypassing traditional new outlets.

“Any information is better than no information,” veteran science reporter Charlie Petit told the San Jose Mercury News. “The quality of research university news releases is quite high…. But they are completely absent any skepticism or investigative side.”

The site is manned by just one person, editor Jenny Leonard, previously of the University of Rochester’s communications department. She admits that the site isn’t acting as a replacement for science journalism, but it still shares information with the public.

Will this put more science journalists out of business or has the damage already been done? Our money’s on the latter.