A mildly confused science writer asks for help. And then braces himself.
Without further ado, this is my email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org; and this is my Twitter handle: @1amnerd. If you're a science writer or are interested in science communication in India, I'd like to hear from you.
I'm new to this scene of science writing--I am extremely curious about developments in the world of science but always struggle to get my ideas across. There are a lot of reasons for this, from occasional laziness to just getting carried away with myself. Still, one of the reasons is an Indian audience I've never fully been able to take the measure of.
I'm not insulting your intelligence or even trying to do so--please don't get me wrong. I want to know more about what you think is lacking in Indian science communication. Let's go beyond the usual narrative of there being a communication gap between scientists and the people.
Even among well-written science stories, the levels of engagement varies--The Hindu's analytics show this clearly. The hits we get, the number of impressions each piece leaves, the amount of engagement and virality, etc.--all of them vary from piece to piece. Beyond the communication gap, it seems our audience also likes certain stories more than others.
I've heard from many people that the Indian audience just isn't ready for pure science stuff. Is this true? Would you like things to be more practical/practicable? Why or why not? Pure science is something I love writing about, but with every piece I find the need to include why pure science is important to humankind, or I/we receive the same comments: "Of what use is this?"
Or do I interpret wrong? The Hindu is one of few newspapers in India that have a page devoted to science & tech. (albeit just once a week). And, on behalf of the science desk, I can tell you we take a lot of time and trouble to select and edit our stories for the page. If you think they're not interesting, I just might not be the good writer you deserve, so your feedback can go a long way in setting that doubt right.
I lose track of our audience, sometimes. I don't know who I'm writing for. Is it a high-schooler? Is it a post-midlife-crisis man? Is it a middle-aged woman? Some of us agree that high-schoolers are the best people to write for: they're young, they know something yet not everything, the language can be kept simple, and they're comprising an increasingly larger section of our audience.
At other times, I think I've written a good story targeted at high-schoolers and older, but I find the comments to the story largely disconcerting. From what I've seen on The Copernican, people have trouble grasping philosophy and metaphysics. Do you think they're right? Do you think they're wrong?
I can say easily say "This study is more empirical than not" in an article but I'll receive a comment on the article saying "This study is bogus". Somehow, I think I should've elaborated on what empirical means. At the same time, the same commenter will understand principles from mathematics or physics of similar complexity. It just makes the writing endeavour a labour in negotiation.
So, instead of overthinking it, I'm asking you. Yes, you. Once again, my contact details: email@example.com and @1amnerd. Write in with what you think about science communication in India. Or leave a comment, too.