Virginia Hughes, acclaimed science editor for Buzzfeed News, gave the 24th Alfred and Julia Hill Lecture on March 29, 2016. Hughes spoke to a capacity audience on “In Defense of Clickbait.”
“Science is a human endeavor like any other,” she said. “So science news should be like any other kind of news: urgent, informative, provocative, and compelling—and, on the web, yes, clickable.”
CCI Board of Visitors Professor Mark Littmann, who holds the Julia G. and Alfred G. Hill Chair of Excellence in Science, Technology and Medical Writing, said that “given where the field is going, it was important to hear from Hughes. She is an innovative leader in internet and digital news, a key way in which science and health information is reaching people.”
Hughes also discussed what it is like to do hard-hitting science journalism for Buzzfeed and the importance of bringing science to new audiences.
Before becoming a science editor for Buzzfeed News in 2015, Hughes was a freelance journalist specializing in genetics, neuroscience and biotechnology. Her blog, Only Human, was published by National Geographic. Hughes’ writing has also appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Yorker and Slate. Her science stories were selected to appear in The Best American Science and Nature Writing in 2012 and 2014.
The Alfred and Julia Hill Lecture series hosts distinguished science journalists to share their thoughts on science, society and the mass media. The lectures are made possible through an endowment from Tom Hill and Mary Frances Hill Holton in honor of their parents, Alfred and Julia Hill, founders of The Oak Ridger. The endowment for the lecture series was a gift to the UT School of Journalism and Electronic Media.