Miriam Kramer didn’t know she wanted to be a science journalist.
A 2011 graduate of Tennessee’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media, Miriam is now a senior space reporter at the new media website Mashable in New York City. She has become one of the most highly respected science journalists in America and she says she found her way into writing about the final frontier while in school at UTK. In addition to her time in Knoxville, Miriam earned a master’s degree in science, health, and environmental reporting from New York University. She has had the opportunity to watch private rocket launches and was even able to take a ride on a zero gravity flight.
We spoke with Miriam about how exactly she stumbled into this unique profession.
How did you find your way into science journalism?
I actually found my way into science journalism through Dr. Littmann at UT. He basically opened my eyes to this whole wide world of science writing that I never knew existed before in the second half of my freshman year. I was really loving the science classes I was taking in college, so being able to combine journalism and science was just ideal for me.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in navigating the current landscape of the journalism profession?
Starting off in a profession like digital journalism — which is in such an extreme state of flux — is challenging in a lot of different ways. It’s difficult to know where the industry is heading and what will happen to your job or even livelihood just a few years down the road. As a whole, the industry needs to find some sustainable way of making money and showing people around the world that good journalism should be valued and paid for. I don’t have a solution for that problem, but I think it’s the main issue facing our industry these days.
But, digital journalism is also incredibly exciting. There are so many amazing things happening in journalism these days in large part because the internet gives people who maybe wouldn’t have had a public voice a platform with which to speak. That diversity of voices is invaluable in an industry that needs to look at all angles of a story.
How did Tennessee’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media help you in getting to where you are today?
JEM was an amazing place to start a career in journalism. I was able to invent internships for myself (working in different labs on campus), and I had the opportunity to manage classmates when I was the Editor-in-Chief of Tennessee Journalist. The experience I gained at UT also allowed me to go to grad school at NYU for science journalism and eventually move on to the space beat with Space.com and Mashable.
What advice would you give aspiring journalists?
Take every opportunity as they come. Don’t ever say “no” because you just think something is going to be too hard. Do the work. Be humble. Learn how to only speak when you need to. Be tenacious but kind. I’m still working on all of these things myself.