Crash Courses

Science essentials for news editors

This Crash Course covers science essentials for news editors.

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What are Crash Courses?

Tuesday, April 23, at 2 p.m. E.T.

SciLine, a philanthropically supported, free service for journalists and scientists based at the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science, is offering a one-hour, Zoom-based science “crash course”—designed specifically for editors. This free course will teach basic principles about how science works, how to integrate it skillfully into your outlet’s journalism, and strategies for making sure the science is right during the editing process.

Former longtime Washington Post science reporter Rick Weiss and Ph.D. neuroscientist Dr. Tori Espensen will together lay out key do’s, don’ts, and pitfalls to watch for when editing a news story that includes scientific information or sources. Their insights are based on decades of experience working with reporters, editors, and scientists. Among the topics to be covered:

  • How even a small dose of science can strengthen almost any story and add to your outlet’s credibility;
  • Different kinds of studies and what each can—and cannot—reveal;
  • Flags to watch for as you assess the accuracy of your reporters’ science-based stories; and
  • Practical tips for identifying credible scientist-sources and guiding reporters to ask the right questions.

Forty-five minutes of interactive teaching will be followed by a 15-min open Q&A.

Reporters: SciLine also teaches a Crash Course designed for you! You can sign up here to be alerted when the next training is scheduled and to find out about our other free services.

Can’t make this session? Here’s our schedule for future dates of this course:

  • September 18, 2024

I am a professional news editor or reporter, and I would like to register for this Crash Course:

Rick Weiss


Rick founded SciLine in 2017 in response to changes in the journalism landscape that saw a loss of specialty science reporters from many local newsrooms and a need to help local and general assignment reporters integrate more research-backed evidence into their reporting. He has more than three decades of experience in journalism and media affairs, including 15 years as a science reporter at The Washington Post, where he wrote more than 1,000 news and feature articles about the economic, societal, and ethical implications of advances in science and technology. He has led science and technology strategic communications operations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including within the White House and the Department of Defense. Rick earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Tori Espensen

Scientific outreach manager

Tori is a neuroscientist and science communicator with a background studying how the brain functions in severe mental disorders. She completed both a Ph.D. in biological psychopathology and a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and has written about science as a blogger, journalist, and scriptwriter. In her role as scientific outreach manager, Tori applies her scientific and communications expertise to finding interview-ready scientists to connect with journalists looking for expert sources. She also leads the curriculum development and instruction of workshops aimed at increasing journalists’ understanding of science and their comfort with incorporating scientific evidence into news stories.

More Science essentials for news editors sessions will be scheduled in the future. You can sign up here to be alerted when the next training is scheduled and to join SciLine’s network of journalists.

Past sessions were held on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, December 6, 2023
  • Monday, July 10, 2023
  • Tuesday, December 13, 2022