Table of Contents
| Starting out
What made you become a content creator?
Tibi Puiu, Co-Founder of ZME Science: ZME Science was launched in 2007 as a popular science blog where I and co-founder Andrei Mihai would post about recent research we thought was super interesting. Back then, we were still in our senior year in high school and we had no idea we would do this for a living almost 15 years later. But the two of us knew that we wanted to be part of the internet and new media industry, at least in some capacity. When we started out, the very first iPhone was barely out, and Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were novel and relatively small but spreading like wildfire. This early phase of Web 2.0 was filled with exciting times, and we knew this was the future and we had to be part of it. Today, ZME Science has morphed into a professional media outlet with over a million unique monthly readers, whose coverage is regularly picked up by international publishers across the world.
What are some of the challenges you face as a content creator?
Tibi: It’s no secret that the publishing industry isn’t in a great place at the moment. Some of the challenges our organization faces are shared by virtually all other publishers struggling to make in this space, including generating enough revenue from digital advertising to make a profit and expand operations, adjusting to a changing media landscape where new disruptive internet technologies and consumer behavior are evolving at a rapid rate, producing quality content with limited resources, or simply gaining people’s attention and trust.
Other challenges are unique to science journalism. To laypeople, science looks like it's evolving rapidly and delivers definite answers to complicated problems, when in fact science proceeds slowly and cautiously. Science papers published by researchers are conservative and very skeptical toward new findings, whereas the public wants exciting new stories. It is up to science journalists to bridge this gap and produce content that does not distort or sensationalize the findings of new research, while at the same time doing so in an engaging and relatable fashion as to draw in the readers from the general public. Unfortunately, much science reporting we see today employs misleading headlines and fails to contextualize studies, often overstating the significance of a new study or succumbing to hyperbole in order to gain more clicks. This is very concerning because, in time, this kind of reporting erodes public trust in science and antagonizes researchers. The still ongoing pandemic is a prime example of why the public needs reliable, unbiased, and factual science journalism.
What are some digital publications that you follow?
Tibi: There are quite a few outlets that we highly respect and praise for their science reporting. We actually just published a list of some of the best science websites we believe anyone should be following in 2022. These include National Geographic, Wired, Live Science, Gizmodo, and the science sections of The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, NPR, and The Washington Post.
| Why syndication?
Why did you decide to syndicate your content with Newstex?
Tibi: Content syndication is a great channel that allows our content to reach new audiences, generate additional brand exposure and publicity, backlinks, and the ability to grow our organic traffic. In some cases, it can also be an additional source of passive revenue. We chose Newstex as a distribution partner because of your unique roster of corporate and academic clients.
What do you think are the benefits of syndicating your content through Newstex?
Tibi: Reaching a wider audience, as well as generating passive revenue we would otherwise not be able to do on our own.
| Highs and lows
What do you like most about creating digital content?
Tibi: Science journalism is challenging but very rewarding work. It’s great that we get to cover new developments from a wide range of fields, from climate to space to the pandemic, so boredom is never on my list of worries. It’s always fantastic and inspiring when we’re messaged by readers who appreciate our content and encourage us to carry on.
What do you dislike most about creating digital content?
Tibi: Modern digital content is now meant to be consumed very fast, and this introduces all sorts of problems. While we’re seeing some great and creative uses of new content delivery channels, like short TikTok videos and Instagram stories, you can only do so much. I’m afraid factual reporting and in-depth critical thinking are often secondary to raising engagement and chasing likes in the current media landscape.