NBC Newstrack #5: What’s left?

I’m supposed to be analyzing some facet of the NBC News Science page, but I can’t do it.

I’ve looked at aesthetics, page layout, advertising, the distribution of topics covered and from where articles are curated. I’ve looked at single articles, analyzed fonts and pointed out numerous typos.

But I’m not sure what to do now. I can’t think of anything, and NBCnews.com/science isn’t providing me with much to work with. My classmates are analyzing sites that have blogging communities, comments sections, and discussion. NBC has exactly none of those things. I wanted to write something substantial for my last newstrack blog, but there simply isn’t anything very substantial about NBC’s coverage of science.


There’s the same usual (over)abundance of space coverage–half the stories on the front page currently. And there’s the same lack of cool biological science. (NBC, I would LOVE to guest write biological science stories for you guys. Hire me! I will add so much diversity to your science news coverage…but I’d also like to enable the comments on my stories, and cross-post from my blog).

Ridiculous as my demands might seem, I don’t know what the reason for NBC’s isolationist stance on science coverage is. Perhaps they’re worried the comments will detract from the quality reporting they’re doing. Then again, how seriously can a site that posts articles about Zombie Neuroscience be taking itself? My gut feeling is that they’re worried that substantial, quality coverage will decrease the amount of space porn and holiday-themed click bait they can fit onto the front page. Clicks unfortunately equal dollars, and NBC is number 1 in making dollars.

I’d love for NBC’s science page to cultivate a blogging community; it’s a model that has worked well for Scientific American among other publishers. It adds diversity, distinct voices, and a breadth of coverage otherwise unattainable by a few staff writers. Perhaps it’s fitting that there’s so much space coverage on from NBC Science, their entire philosophy and science coverage feels like it exists in a lifeless vacuum.


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