With newspapers and print publications struggling to stay afloat today, journalists have taken to the Web in order to get the news out into the world.
Tinker Ready, a part-time journalism professor at Boston University, currently writes for two health and science-focused blogs and has been freelancing for 14 years.
Reporters like Ready, who has previously written for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Esquire and many other national publications, are finding new ways to establish themselves in an online world. Through social media and blogging, Ready has established her presence as a well-known health and science blogger in the Boston community.
In 2009, Ready began writing for her own blog called Boston Health News. This blog is dedicated to informing readers about topics such as science research, personal health and policy-related health news.
Ready also writes for Nature Boston, a scientific blog run by the Nature Publishing Group, a company that publishes scientific and medical research, articles and other information both online and in print across the country. Ready posts to this blog daily, and generally includes health and scientific news from around the Boston and New England area.
“The Nature blog is a job I have,” said Ready. “With the Nature blog, I’m covering what’s happening in the scientific community in Boston, where the Boston Health News blog is much more health policy oriented and is my personal view on things.”
Both of Ready’s blogs inform and educate her readers about current news in Boston’s health and science fields, but they have different objectives.
“The goal for my personal blog is to get experience as a blogger but also to be out there in the discussion on health reform,” said Ready. “Right now, it is my home on the Web.”
Social media, along with blogging, is a large part of the ever-changing world of journalism.
“Live tweeting is good,” said Ready. “It brings followers to the website, overall it’s a good way to bring traffic to your site.”
Ready regularly uses social media outlets to get her stories out to her readers. She is well-connected across the main social media sites, but uses Twitter as her main connection to readers.
“All my Health News blog posts go out automatically as tweets, and I tweet out all my Nature blogs manually,” said Ready. “I post links to stories on my Facebook page, but Twiter is a really important tool for me.”
As a tool to get blog posts out to the Internet, Twitter is rapidly becoming a more reliable way for Ready to make sure her readers know not only about her recent blog posts, but also about what is going on in the health world.
“My Twitter presence is almost more prominent now than my blog presence,” said Ready. “I have the Twitter account linked to the blog, but I go through the health news every day and I tweet out different things that I think are interesting.”
Blogging is an important part of the health-care industry, and those employed by companies in the industry read health blogs like Ready’s Nature blog to stay on top of the most recent news.
Valentine Tendo, the member services assistant at Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, reads the Nature Boston blog regularly.
“I read Tinker’s blog because she investigates critical topics that may go under the radar,” said Tendo. “It is extremely informative regarding what is going on in the life sciences industry.”
Tendo also commented on Ready’s calendar on the Nature blog, saying it is a useful tool for anyone in the industry.
“Tinker has a weekly calendar of local ongoing events in the science world on the Nature Network Boston Calendar,” said Tendo. “This is a great resource not only for those actively involved within the life sciences industry but also students and individuals without a science background who are looking to get more involved within the industry.”
Ready has been involved with health reporting for a large part of her career. She started Boston Health News three years ago, and began working for Nature Boston when it started in 2009.
“I started covering healthcare for a Connecticut paper called The Journal Inquirer,” said Ready. “And I’ve been covering healthcare ever since. I like it, I got interested in it so I’ve been covering it ever since.”
She also attends health-related events around Boston. In March, Ready attended Massachusetts Biotechnology Council’s Annual Meeting. At the meeting, Ready tweeted her experience to followers, and also wrote a blog post on the keynote address.
Sarah MacDonald, vice president of development and communications at Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, said working with Ready was a new kind of experience.
“Tinker was great to work with,” said MacDonald. “She was interested in what she was reporting, and it was a new experience for me to work with someone so involved in blogging and social media during the event.”
As far as MassBio’s Annual Meeting goes, Ready said she wishes she could have stayed longer.
“There were a lot of great sessions there that could have brought me up to date on a lot of healthcare topics I’d like to do,” said Ready.
However, as a part-time professor, Ready’s commitment to her students is a priority. Ready currently teaches introductory level journalism classes to undergraduates at BU. As a journalism professor, she is constantly looking for ways to improve and engage with the ever-growing online audience. As far as the future of news gathering goes, Ready said the news industry is changing, not dying.
“I’m optimistic that the phoenix is rising,” Ready said. “There’s new stuff, and there’s lots of journalism going on out there, it’s just online. I was worried at one point about the demise of newspapers, but I think the worst is over. People want solid, reliable information, and I think they’ll seek it out. They’re going to go to sites where the news is reliable, so I think there’s a good future for news sites.”
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