Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times


Husavik, Iceland, was the setting for the Netflix film “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.” Now, a song about the town is up for an Oscar, which locals helped campaign for. Win or lose, the song is part of the fabric of Husavik: The local soccer team plays it before games, and the children’s choir regularly performs it.

As a science reporter for The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli knows the world of research, labs and technical papers. She talked to Times Insider about her career and covering the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s an excerpt.

How did you start working as a science reporter?

I went to graduate school for biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was there for four years, and I would have gotten a Ph.D. if I’d stayed one more year. But I realized that being a lab scientist was just a little too slow, a little too specific and a little too antisocial for me. I went to journalism school at N.Y.U.’s science journalism program, and I’ve been a reporter ever since. My mom is a writer. She’s a poet and a short-story writer, and I’ve been around literature my whole life. So my job has married two very different parts of my brain — science and writing.

How do you think your science training influences your work?

It’s very helpful in a lot of ways. I’m not writing about biochemistry, so the exact subject matter doesn’t help, but I understand the basics of biology. Much of my career, I’ve actually written for scientists, who can be exacting readers. They want things to be clear, but they never want things dumbed down. That has pushed me to always be accurate.


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