Science Journalism in the Public Interest

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ANNALEE NEWITZ, ’03

By the early 2000s, Annalee Newitz says she was at a “crossroads” in her career.  Her syndicated tech-culture column Techsploitation was an early success, but her longing to branch out led her to the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT. KSJ “was an incredible help,” said Newitz. “I was able to re-educate myself with a lot of biology and environmental science and cover a number of topics.”

One of her favorites: Metagenomics, where researchers sequence all of the DNA they can find in a sample and use that data to figure out which species are in that community.  “It just blew my mind that you could take a scoop of dirt and sequence it,” she said.

After completing the fellowship, Newitz worked as a policy analyst for a legal think tank called the Electronic Frontier Foundation for a year before returning to freelancing.  In 2008, Gawker Media Group, which publishes a variety of popular online titles, approached her about starting a blog on futurism, pop culture, tech, and the intersections thereof.  She was the founding editor of that venture, dubbed io9, and the site has since merged wit another of Gawker’s titles, Gizmodo. Newitz is now editor-in-chief of both.

She has also frequently collaborated with sci-fi author C.J. Anders on projects such as Other magazine, which was billed as a magazine of “pop culture and politics for the new outcasts,”  and She’s Such a Geek. an anthology of essays exploring gender issues in geek culture.

Newitz’s 2013 book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize.