I spent fifteen years as a magazine editor before making the leap to my first job in television, as the national science and technology correspondent for Al Jazeera America.
During my time at AJAM, I hit upon a new kind of science journalism. Rather than lapsing into the sort of chirpy, consumer-driven coverage of consumer technology you can get anywhere, I was specifically tasked with finding a new angle on science and innovation. “We are all about social change,” an executive producer told me in my first week. “Your job will be to find sci-tech stories within that.”
So I have. I’ve learned the laws governing the relationship between police and the mentally ill, as well as the ins and outs of law-enforcement body cameras and the rights of onlookers to record the police. I’ve covered the rise of fracking and its effects on everything from the global economy to small-town fire safety. I’ve identified the organizational overlap between the NSA and companies like Google and Facebook. I’ve gained a command of the miraculous pharmacology that can reverse an opioid overdose, and of the societal hesitance to make it available to drug users. I’ve reported on the creeping automation of lethal decisionmaking in the military. I’ve revealed the inextricable link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the United States. And in the process I’ve developed a new beat — the dark edge of science and technology — and used it to measure social change.
It doesn’t hurt that I suffer from almost endless morbid curiosity. Al Jazeera gave me the chance to indulge that curiosity by focusing it through the lens of research and data. My plan now is to pursue stories about unforeseen consequences, human frailty, and overlooked potential in a book, in a podcast, and in any other projects you care to discuss with me. My first project is a four-part series on bias and the brain, produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting with funding from the National Science Foundation. It’s due to air on public television in 2017. Thanks for taking the time to visit.