Veteran science journalist joins the SMC

Journalists covering science-related stories now have an extra resource to draw on with former NZPA reporter Kent Atkinson joining the team at the Science Media Centre.

Kent Atkinson

Atkinson ranks among the country’s most experienced reporters having spent 27 years at the New Zealand Press Association which shut its doors this week after 132 years of operation.

His place on the cutting edge of breaking news saw Atkinson dealing with the science-related angles on everything from the “Corngate” controversy to 2009’s swine flu pandemic.

His science stories in particular have won him the respect of readers and the scientific community alike and were widely syndicated in New Zealand’s newspapers.

Atkinson will play a leading role at the SMC generating expert round-ups on breaking science stories, putting together online briefings for journalists and assisting the media when science is in the headlines.

“We’ve worked extensively with Kent since the SMC was set up so we are excited to have him onboard,” said SMC Manager Peter Griffin.

“In a week where we saw the demise of a journalistic institution, we have one of its most experienced reporters giving back to the industry by sharing his immense knowledge of the science round and journalism in general. I encourage all journalists to draw on Kent’s expertise.”

“I moved to NZPA 27 years ago to run its Parliamentary bureau, and since then I’ve worked in many different news ’rounds’. The most satisfying work has always been rooted in science because for me, journalism means asking questions and – sometimes – getting meaningful answers,” said Atkinson.

“Now I have a chance to step through the mirror and use some of that experience in helping other journalists.”

Among the services offered to the media by the SMC is an expert database featuring thousands of scientists who are keen to work with the media, virtual press conferences on science-related issues and an embargoed research newsletter which gives journalists a snapshot of the most significant scientific papers being published worldwide in the upcoming week.

The SMC’s Desk Guide for Covering Science, is an indispensible a 28 page booklet aimed at journalists new to the science round and is available for download from the SMC website or as a hard copy. Contact the SMC for more details and to join our mailing lists for embargoed alerts and breaking news releases.

Atkinson will join the SMC for a six month period providing maternity cover for SMC media advisor Dacia Herbulock, who has just given birth to a healthy baby girl.