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22Apr 2013

The Verge launches new "science vertical" with Wired's Drummond as editor.

Paul Raeburn
Katie Drummond

The tech and culture site The Verge has launched its new Verge Science vertical (what we used to call a science section), with Katie Drummond of Wired as the editor. FishbowlNY reports that Drummond most recently covered military research at Wired and has also worked at The Daily and AOL News.

Drummond introduces the section (sorry: the vertical) with a video here, which you might want to check out before heading over to The Verge Science. There you will find stories on H7N9 bird flu, Kepler's recent discovery of two potentially Earth-like planets, and on the forthcoming update of the psychiatric diagnostic manual, the so-called DSM-5. Carl Franzen, a reporter for The Verge, wrote the bird flu and Kepler stories.

The Kepler story is an acceptable digest of the findings, but quotes only one source (a Kepler project scientist). Franzen's story on bird flu quotes from CDC documents, a World Health Organization report, Bloomberg Businessweek, and an unnamed CDC spokesman. These one-source stories sit somewhere between news alerts and science journalism. I have no problem with short posts that alert me to the news, but after reading these posts, I'd want to be able to link back to source material or other stories taking a more critical or in-depth journalism approach. 

An April 19th story by Drummond on an advance in solar-cell efficiency is a no-source story that merely rewrites an MIT press release. Again, I'm happy to see this story, which I hadn't come across elsewhere, but I wouldn't trust claims of increased efficiency without looking for a story that asks other researchers whether the MIT claim can be believed.

So far, what we have here, it seems, is a science-alert vertical, not a science journalism vertical. But these are early days. The Verge does quite a good job covering technology; I think there is a good chance it will grow into a good science journalism site as well. But it's not there yet.

-Paul Raeburn

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