"the model of journalism that we cherish – the tandem until Watergate 'Carl Zimmer in pre-Internet – may have been thrown to the nettles."

By Carl Zimmer | May 6, 2009 1:26 am

This piece in Agence Science Presse appears to be about the future of science journalism. If Google Translate is right, my place in that future appears to be in some type of shrubbery.

Perhaps someone who hasn’t forgotten quite so much of his or her high school French will understand what’s going on here.


Comments (15)

  1. Oded

    We want… a SHRUBBERY!!

    sorry I just had to.

  2. Karl

    Google translate is not always spot on.

  3. It is the third part of a interesting series on science journalism, and the translation is not that bad (nettles and all). And, as far as I understand, they say the journalism will disappear, but only as we know it. You’re quoted as the avant-garde of the future. You won’t lose your job.
    I will 8-(

    Marco Ferrari

  4. Shimon

    Hes talking about the way traditional investigative journalism (Woodward & Bernstein are the pair or ‘tandem” he refers to ) and the way you (CZ) used to describe science phenomena in pre internet days, are being replaced by multi-sided blog-comments type discussions on every issue. He uses one of ure blog-comments threads as an example of this new wave.

  5. WE WANT A … dang … Oded beat me to it!

    It seems to me that as science becomes more and more specialized, the need for good science journalism can only increase.

  6. luca

    On fait une bonne soupe, ici, avec les ourties… :-) I would know…

    More on the topic, I agree with what Eastwood says. There’s always space (and need) for good science journalism.

    I guess that, rather than reading you on dead trees, we’ll read you on our Kindle/iPhone/Whatevertron…

    I wouldn’t mind paying a subscription fee to an electronically accessible science journal.

    I don’t now because I don’t have the time to read it. And I get Science and Nature delivered to the office door anyway… But back home, once have some toddlers able to read? Definitely.

  7. Paul Clapham

    I only have high-school French too, but it’s still sort of functional. I would translate that as “will perhaps have been thrown into the nettles”. Apparently that’s a French idiom but its meaning is pretty clear: something is thrown from a moving cart to the side of the road, and it lands in a place where it’s hard to get it out of.

  8. I translate the passage, “No, journalism will not disappear, but in 30 years, helped by the indifference of journalists toward the changes in their medium, these three processes will have made so much progress that the model of journalism we cherish—from Watergate up to pre-Internet Carl Zimmer—may have been tossed into the weeds.”

    The thing that astonishes me is how long the reporter thinks the process will take.

  9. But as to the translation: “The model of journalism that we cherish – from the Watergate duo to the pre-Internet Carl Zimmer – will have perhaps been tossed out the window.” Also, I hate to pour cold water on Sig. Ferrari, but the article concludes by suggesting that, a generation from now, “the science bloggers who, thirty years earlier, had scooped Carl Zimmer will seem like a very small vanguard.”

  10. Be grateful it isn’t German. You’re a room, there.

  11. Since I’m a science journalist and a teacher in Quebec, I have reed this piece and the relfexion I have about it is this: ok, some scientifics bloging may publish more quickly then Zimmer or any other journalist. But do they have as much readers then the NYT does? Do they draw the agenda of the other medias of the country as the NYT does? I think we’re note quite there at this time. The science journalist play a role quite different from the one of the scientific who blog, on paper or on the Web.

  12. Nettles are non-woody and are therefore herbs not shrubs. Sorry. Had to get that off my chest.

  13. Having grown up in East Texas where we have “stinging” nettles growing wild… It’s a kind of grassy herb that you don’t want to walk into while wearing shorts. Trust me, you don’t want to be “caught” in the nettles. Of course, the traditional thing to do in East Texas if you do find yourself being stung by nettles is to, and I kid you not, is to pee on yourself. It stops the stinging. lol!


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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