Why is science easy to report?

There are quite a few aspects of science that make it a producer’s pet subject. Any story starts with “who, when and where”. “Once upon a time, there was a king in Serendip…” is a typical beginning for a story. Producers can use what science drops in its inexorable march towards truth and humanize science once again. The story can be about the scientist who is working in a specific laboratory.

The second part of the typical story is the challenge that the hero faces. “The king of Serendip does not have any children in spite of having many wives.” The challenge in a story about scientific advance is not in the realm of fantasy like in folk or fairy tales. It is about the real world. But it can be made as gripping if we present the challenge in the right way.

Putting forth the possible solutions that the scientist considers can move the narrative structure of the story forward. As in a fairy tale, one by one these solutions face obstacles. They turn out to be erroneous, are criticized by other scientists or there are results that contradict them.

At last, the scientist thinks up a hypothesis that explain it and devises an experiment… Now we are reaching the climax. The experimental results corroborate the hypothesis!

The resolution follows – the third act in the three-act play. The scientist is congratulated and his work is accepted.

Of course, it is not necessary to have a scientist as the main character in every story. Science impacts our lives. If we ask ourselves what type of person benefits most with the discovery or invention that we are trying to explain, it will give us a clue to how to construct the story. For example, if the story is about a new drug to cure a particular disease, you could take off from the case study of a person who is suffering from the disease.

In any case, one of the main tasks of the broadcaster is to re-inject the human element into science, which assiduously tries to remove biases and, therefore, human elements.24


24. For biographies of scientists, see http://www.accessscience.com/biographies.aspx.