Blunder-bias

All the coverage of the thing currently happening in the UK has me currently waxing introspective about my own writing and what I do.

It’s tricky, because what do I do? At the moment, it’s mainly writing about science. You could say it’s journalism.

On the other hand I’m moaning about the government on my blog and on Twitter, which is hardly objective, is it? Does it matter if my area is science?

It occurs to me that, for all the hot water the BBC and ITV have found themselves in, the criticism has mainly called out a lack of impartiality, even when, lately, it’s been a lack of accuracy that’s been a much more serious issue.

I don’t want to get into the bias of any particular journalist, but I will say that the BBC seems to be hamstrung by its impartial remit. On the one hand, if it doesn’t get all sides of a story across, it’s going to come under fire for bias. But on the other, in doing so, it can be accused of lending a megaphone to extremist or objectively incorrect views. And it’s probably impossible for any one report or reporter to have zero bias.

Maybe it’s time the beeb got out of the news business. They’re so good at so many other things. Of course, I can’t say I’m impartial, but I try not to hide my biases: I believe there’s a climate crisis. I believe the rise in right-wing ideology is dangerous and I think the rise in a polarising leftism to combat it is also dangerous. And I believe in calling out bollocks. And yes I’m a remainer, and no, I don’t vote tory.

I think I’m comfortable at squaring all of that and writing about science, but it’s a conversation I’ll keep having with myself in the days ahead. But I’ll try to stop moaning about politics. Not because of bias but because I know that it’s incredibly boring for people.

Monthly writing round-up

Rather than spam the blog with stuff I’ve written elsewhere, I thought at the end of the month I’d post a little round-up of some of the highlights (and trust me, I use the term with all due hesitation).

In truth, I feel like right now is something of a reboot of my writing career. Though New Atlas have been good enough to allow me to chip away at contributions over my months and years in the corporate wilderness world, writing for them again in earnest has been lovely.

I’m a different writer now, and I have some figuring out to do. I was never that interested in gadgets, if I’m honest, but a more world-weary me now has to try harder to find subjects that I want to write about. I used to pride myself in being interested in everything, and though I think that’s true in terms of subject matter, I need a hook into any particular story. That’s probably a good thing.

I’ve heard some good news with a pitch beyond New Atlas. I’ve always been lazy at pitching, but starting more or less from square one I can’t afford to be at the moment. I need to build up my clips again. It’s great that I’ve written for Ars or Smithsonian Magazine, but that was a long time ago now. Time to knuckle down while not burning myself out to the point of not wanting to write creatively – if I don’t get into that habit now, I never will.

Anyway, rambling. Here’s some of the stuff I wrote for New Atlas in November:

  • On a point of pedantry, yesterday I wrote a thing about why Tim Berners-Lee didn’t invent the internet. Spoiler: the internet had already been invented. He invented the web. Lurches into the history of technology which it now occurs to me I have a degree in and should probably write more about.
  • I also got a bit annoyed with some of the coverage on a story on the potential of whales to fight climate change. The IMF reckon a great whale is worth about a thousand trees in terms of carbon storage, so obviously a number of outlets took that to mean that we should give up on trees and forests. So I wrote a thing calling that out a little a bit.
  • I was quite pleased with a piece I wrote on old Aztec farming tradition that one researcher thinks could help feed highly populated cities – provided there’s a nearby lake, that is. Now that I think of it, technology history-meets-futurism sounds more interesting than just technology history as a furrow to plough. Thinking face.
  • Finally, I shall say nothing about the curious case of the house with no knocker, because that’s the sort of piece it is. It did ****-all business, but I don’t care. More of this sort of thing – as much as I can get away with, anyway.

If you made it this far, thank you. Have a joke on me. Don’t be too hopeful. I’m making this up on the spot. Like, now. Why did the Jedi call the police? Because he liked to use the force. Goodo!