The Listener and science

May 18, 2008

I’ve complained before about The Listener, and about its coverage of science in general.

I should point out here that The Listener just won the Qantas Media Award for newsstand magazine of the year, so my views are somewhat in the minority (although readership is in freefall (although curiously missing from the ABC figures) so maybe not a complete minority).

The Listener’s approach to science and to rigour has been somewhat lacking, in my opinion. Imagine my surprise when I read on page 45 of this week’s issue that The Listener, in conjunction with the Royal Society of NZ, is sponsoring the Manhire Prize for creative science writing.

Either, The Listener takes its science journalism seriously, despite all evidence to the contrary. Or they’re taking the more liberal interpretation of “creative” (as in “He was an accountant who believed in ‘creative accounting’.”) or perhaps they’re just having a joke. All I can say is I’m glad the RSNZ has appointed the International Institute of Modern Letters to judge the award.

Amusingly, the topic of this year’s award is “evolution”.

Let the games begin.

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5 Responses to “The Listener and science”

  1. frankbi Says:

    The Listener sued a blogger for suggesting that environmental columnist Dave Hansford was fired for dubious reasons. There’s also a podcast where Pamela Stirling describes her, um, editorial policy.

    — bi, International Journal of Inactivism

  2. Mysterious Dave Mather Says:

    I don’t get what is completely missing from the ABC figures. Where you unable to find numbers for the ‘Listener’?

    The ‘New Zealand listener’ has dropped -5.4010% over the last six months. ‘New Zealand listener’ seems to be the banner title, check the website http://www.listener.co.nz/.

  3. Mysterious Dave Mather Says:

    Hang on, I’ve just had a closer look at that prize.

    Two prizes of $2,500 will be awarded, one for Creative Science Writing fiction, the other for non-fiction. As judged by Kim Hill, noted author and scientist! No hang on, she’s a bloody radio interviewer on Saturdays.

    Taking a closer look at the details featured below http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/events/awards/royalsocnzmanhireprize.html, and it looks like all the ‘Listener’ is down for doing is publish the material. So in short, the ‘New Zealand listener’ has pledged itself to publish one factual science story a year, so long as it is relatively short, and Kim Hill likes it.

    That is just this side of Sweet Fanny Adams commitment, really.

  4. Audent Says:

    Muh, that’ll be why. I looked under L for Listener and T for The Listener but not N for New Zealand Listener. My bad.

  5. audent Says:

    Well… that’s astounding. More astounding than I thought!

    I read last year’s fiction winner. Not bad. Can’t wait to see what they make of evolution.


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