Interview with editor-in-chief of Scientific American Mariette DiChristina

Recently, Mariette DiChristina, editor-in-chief of the famous U.S. scientific magazine "Scientific American", received the interview from Guangming Online in Tianjin before attending the Summer Davos Forum.

GMW.cn: How has your magazine been influenced or impacted by internet media? What have you done to cope with this?

Mariette DiChristina: Scientific American, you know, was started in 1845, so it was a very long print magazine. But 20 years ago, a website was started ... something that called "American Online"(AOL), even before magazine had a website. You know we are the first magazine on AOL. So right away, I think Scientific American always want to share knowledge with other people who are interested in science. And whenever there has been a new way to do that, Internet, Scientific American would like to do that; Apps, Scientific American does that; Twitter, Facebook, Google, Podcast, Video, there are all ways to talk about science. So how we are changing? To answer your question is anytime there is a new way to communicate science, we would like to try it. So that we can learn how to share with people what they know, also what we know to them about science.

GMW. cn: In China, the best known part of Scientific American website is "60 Seconds Science", is this out of your expectation?

Mariette DiChristina: It makes me happy to know it. When I first came to Tianjin two years ago for the World Economic Forum meeting, there are many people. One woman came up to me, she recognized me across the room and said, "I know you, you are the editor-in-chief of Scientific American". I have never met her, she said, "I come to your website everyday to listen to your videos." So I was so happy to know about podcasts. I didn’t know it was the most popular, but I can understand why, everybody likes 60 second science.

GMW. cn: There’re quite a number of bloggers who are active for many years at your website and provide lots of knowledge and news clues. What communities are they from?

Mariette DiChristina: Scientific American has two kinds of writers, scientists who write about their work, and journalists like me, who have been doing for a long time and can speak to many scientists and tell the story about many scientists. So editors have scientist to talk about, they work for many scientists and journalists. In the bloggers, it is the same. We have some who are scientists, they write about their science; we have some of journalists and writers, they write about how the field looks in general, maybe it’s the field of geology, maybe it’s the field of chemistry. So we have a mix of people. I think that is important, because the science is, first of all, is global and diverse. Everybody is collaborating, we are sharing knowledge. And many kinds of science are needed to tell us about how the world works, so I think the important thing is we need lots of kinds of thinking, different kinds of science, and different scientists around the world and collaborate together and share knowledge. And so the bloggers write that too.

GMW. cn: And what do you do to retain the bloggers?

Mariette DiChristina: So I think, one thing is, they like to reach our audiences. I didn’t give you some numbers… it is very small compared to China, but 6 million monthly unique visitors come every month to Scientific American. 6 million different people, many more pages. So one reasons the bloggers like us is because they are reaching a lot of people. Not just our website, we also have 14 translated editions, including "Global Science" here in China. So there are also websites where they also can (if they translated) reach them. Another is, we pay them a little money for that. Some people don’t pay for bloggers, we paid them.

GMW. cn: In your opinion, what prospects will China have in its science development? What fields do you think are more promising? And into which areas do you think China needs to put more effort?

Mariette DiChristina: I don’t really think I would like to know what China should do. The one I think was very impressive is... now technology research seen in China lately is in Tsinghua University. There is an amazing work that a chip can make sound, you can basically take it in a film and make it a speaker. It is just like rough ground things (and) quite lovely. I think it is quite interesting technology that has been worked out. I think generally there are a lot of kinds of research in China that is interesting to see.

Charlotte Liu (Managing Director of Macmillan Science (Great China) & Education (Asia)): From our observation because we are based in China, Chinese government has invested a lot in research. But I think the government is also becoming more strategic in choosing the fields that China wants to be known as the leader globally. For example, agriculture science is one area that is very important to China. I think China has already made huge investment and was already very successful. Topics related to pollution, renewable energy, these are also areas we see a lot of new development. China is also very strong in genetics. If you look at Nature Genetics, one of our journals, compared to other nature journals, we published paper from China, because Chinese scientists are very strong in this field. These are just a few examples, but it makes senses because I think China wants to focus on the basic research, energy-required research in the areas that are most pressing in terms of sucsedal issues in support China as a country, therefore being known as a leader globally. This will also benefit other countries as we know scientists with no borders. So whatever China has discovered in agriculture science, in renewable energy ,or seismology, which is another topic, mental health related teaching, we also benefit everybody, no matter what country. So we are also very excited about in China, our Shanghai, Beijing offices we have a lot of nature editors, we have a lot of local teams based in Beijing and Shanghai working with science community to publish the best researches.

Interviewed by Liu Shimeng/ Guangming Online

Mariette DiChristina
editor-in-chief of Scientific American

Mariette DiChristina is now editor-in-chief of Scientific American. A science journalist for more than 20 years, she first came to Scientific American in 2001 as its executive editor.More>>

Follow Guangming Online for exclusive content and more:
  • "How we are changing? To answer your question is anytime there is a new way to communicate science, we'd like to try it."
  • "Science is, first of all, is global and diverse. Everybody is collaborating, we are sharing knowledge."
  • "It is very small compared to China, but 6 million monthly unique visitors come every month to Scientific American."
  • "I think the important thing is we need lots of kinds of thinking, different kinds of science, and different scientists around the world and collaborate together and share knowledge."

 

Consultant producer:Zeng Fanhua

Designer: Zhou yueqin

Art Editor: Li Wenfeng

Executive Editor:Liu Shimeng