Interview with Miguel Ángel Sabadell

ma-sabadell
ma-sabadellLucía Sapiña

Miguel Ángel Sabadell, science editor of Muy Interesante, talks about how to attract the interest of the science reader and how, in the words of the editor, «science sells». Currently, Muy Interesante is the most read science magazine in Spain, and the one with the most followers on Twitter. How did they become so popular? Miguel Ángel Sabadell shows us the keys to science communication in his magazine.

One of the problems journalists face is how to address science information in order to make it appealing and educational. What are the keys to draw the attention of the reader, in your opinion?
This problem exists also in any other topics journalists deal with. How do you make a politics report readable? You first need to know the issue, and then look for a different approach, take care of the headline and the beginning of the article, because it is the only way to hook the reader so he keeps reading. And these techniques do not work only for science journalism, but for any other. You have to know the people’s interests, but the main thing is creativity and previous knowledge of the matter.

What do you think are the main differences between the fields of science and journalism? Are they irreconcilable?
The main difference for me is the fact that they have different objectives. The scientist tries to learn about the world and get recognition from his colleagues. And the journalist tries to entertain and inform, but primarily to reach an audience. Balance between both fields is very unstable. The scientist sometimes forgets a very important thing: what is interesting for the scientist may not be the same that the audience find interesting. And he does not know how to interact with the journalist, either. It depends on the medium: if you appear on TV, you have 30 seconds, if you are on the radio the approach is different. The journalist also needs to know science to write a good article. And that is where all those clashes between both fields come from.

Which one of these would you prefer for your science communication magazine: a journalist with a notion of science or a scientist with knowledge about journalism?
You need a communicator. Personally, I do not care where he comes from or his formal education. If he communicates correctly, it does not matter. The fact that someone knows about science is not an assurance that he will know how to communicate, and vice versa. So you need to know how to communicate science, no matter where you come from.

Social networks and the information age modified communication reality. How did new technologies change your magazine? Do you think written press has a future in your field?
It is funny, because during the last years, we shortened our articles. Less text and more pictures are published, and we are living the age of shallow knowledge: Twitter’s 140 characters do not amount to much. You have to adapt to these new media, but taking into account that there are things you have to talk about carefully and in detail. That cannot be lost. I think the written media that will not be on the Internet is the one that examines deeply and gives you the whole picture.

Your magazine is the most followed in Twitter. How do you explain this popularity?
The people responsible for our Twitter account wholeheartedly dedicated to it, and they are doing it really well. I think it is the «gentle lamb» effect. No one knows how it works, but someone always ends up leading the herd. We made a big bet on it. We were the first magazine in Spain to appear for iPad. And people responds when you give them interesting things.

Eva Maria Javier. Journalism Student at the University of Valencia.
© Mètode 2013.

 

muyinteresante

«The scientist sometimes forgets a very important thing: what is interesting for the scientist may not be the same that the audience find interesting»

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

«During the last years, we shortened our articles. Less text and more pictures are published, and we are living the age of shallow knowledge»

 

© Mètode 2013

Estudiant de Periodisme de la Universitat de València.