Episode 32: Truth, Beauty, Science

Our latest episode is with Tom Zeller Jr the Editor in Chief of Undark (formerly at the New York Times). Undark was set up as way of applying hard hitting investigative journalism to the intersection of science and society. Supported by the Knight Foundation, Undark is unbeholden to advertisers which allows them to tackle the cases they want to. 

We think their description blows anything we could say out of the water...

"" The name Undark arises from a murky, century-old mingling of science and commerce — one that resulted in an industrial and consumer product that was both awe-inspiring and, as scientists would later prove, toxic and deadly. We appropriate the name as a signal to readers that our magazine will explore science not just as a “gee-whiz” phenomenon, but as a frequently wondrous, sometimes contentious, and occasionally troubling byproduct of human culture.

As such, the intersection of science and society — the place where science is articulated in our politics and our economics; or where it is made potent and real in our everyday lives — is a fundamental part of our mission at Undark. As journalists, we recognize that science can often be politically, economically and ethically fraught, even as it captures the imagination and showcases the astonishing scope of human endeavor. Undark will therefore aim to explore science in both light and shadow, and to bring that exploration to a broad, international audience.

Undark is not interested in “science communication” or related euphemisms, but in true journalistic coverage of the sciences. ""

We were keen to discuss what we see as the current failings on how science is communicated, such as are we failing the general public by only communicating the end result of the science? Undark treats science as a process that has wide reaching impacts far beyond the publication that's typically reported, covering corruption in science, academic discrimination, and research censorship.

Outside of Undark we were interested in Tom's time at the New York Times, the inspiring work environment, the grinding to meet deadlines, and being one of the "children and geeks" at the embryonic New York Times website.