A year of Cosmos Weekly, and the launch of our podcast

Peas in a pod: a Weekly year, and Huh? Science Explained

It’s not often one gets the opportunity to launch a new publication, and rarer still if that publication’s focus is science. But that’s exactly what we did on 23 April last year with Cosmos Weekly.

That means today marks the Weekly’s first anniversary. To celebrate, we’ve created a bumper edition to run across these holiday – Easter and Anzac Day – weekends, with a combination of stories old and new.

The year that’s passed has been, by any measure, a full and very rewarding one, punctuated by some fine journalism about a surprising range of science matters, and for us, the Weekly’s editors, an intriguing and sometimes challenging journey to fulfil our stated aim of making this publication “the place where the science rubber hits the real-world road”.

Prima facie what seemed a simple objective in the months leading up to the first Weekly became a little more challenging over time than our pre-launch optimism allowed, but nevertheless remains the reason why we’ve published a wealth of stories that we think are pin-high aligned with this ideal.

A year ago, when we launched the Weekly, we opined that there’d never been a better time to report on science

We’ve collected what we consider to be the best of them in this special anniversary edition: even though work published online is theoretically forever and ever available, we know that – like emails in a busy inbox – they slip down the pages and are largely lost to history. We trust you’ll enjoy the reading.

Given the unusual alignment this year of Easter and Anzac Day we’ve included more than the usual Weekly ration of stories to get you through the break. We posted most of these stories a week ago, knowing a good long Easter read would be appreciated, and we’ve added two fresh stories this week from foundation contributors Mark Pesce and Clare Watson.

The hardest gig of producing this issue has been deciding which stories to include. Those that missed the cut include some we’re most proud of publishing: please take another look at The great carbon capture and storage debate: can Santos make it work?, AI at work: a future framed by collaboration?, Charting a course to zero emissions: the challenge for global shipping and How are we studying firefighter health risks?

The Weekly’s launch in April 2021 was an important mark in the Royal Institution of Australia’s evolution. Over the past year, the RiAus cast off from the moorings that served us well over the Institution’s first decade and navigated towards the livelier waters in which modern media regattas are sailed.

Weekly wrap up
Entomologist and food scientist Skye Blackburn talked to Cosmos Briefing about why we should consider adding insects to our diet.

From a standing start, our video journalism went in a matter of months from static panel discussions and short one-one-one interviews to short documentary films. It’s easy to say that our video editor Marc Blazewicz and those that supported him, notably including executive director (and closet “I really want to be a TV journo again” guy) Will Berryman, were just doing their jobs. What they did was manage to keep making things and publishing them while they became more complex.

It’s also very satisfying to celebrate a birthday and a new birth at the same time – this is one of those special periods.

Perhaps most noteworthy in a year’s decent field of innovation is our embrace of podcasting – a medium through which more and more people are obtaining their information and a critical space for those, like RiAus, that seek to champion fact-based reporting over the opinion and sometimes downright foolishness that nowadays swamps information sources.

Again, in a matter of months, RiAus journalists and production staff – who knew COO Chuck Smeeton was going to end up a P-plate sound engineer? – skilled up and sent our science reporting out on the airwaves.

This effort has an immensely pleasing coda: last Thursday marked the first episode of our first podcast series with Australian commercial media giant Southern Cross Austereo: Huh? Science explained. This is the start of a long-term agreement to be SCA’s science podcasting partner on their LiSTNR platform – an arrangement that will see RiAus science journalists broadcasting science news and explainers regularly for years to come. And – no small bonus – the income from which will help sustain our not-for-profit mission: to make science accessible and understandable and to as many Australians as we possibly can.

Weekly wrap up

A year ago, when we launched the Weekly, we opined that there’d never been a better time to report on science, “and no more important job than letting people know about the latest developments in Australia so that you, our readers, can stay informed about the science behind the big decisions that are shaping our country”.

A year later, and with a federal election recently announced, that mission has amplified in importance. The world is more complex, its problems more dangerous and pressing, the need to address them more urgent.

We hope you’re enjoying the articles from writers around the world, across Australia, and particularly from our growing newsroom of science-trained journalists who are researching, interviewing and news-hounding contacts to report on the science that is changing our world for the better, week after week.

It’s our hope that Cosmos Weekly and all of RiAus’ other science reporting – including the innovative new media we’ll be using in a year that probably hasn’t yet been invented – will stay the course, and that you’ll stay with us.

As always, we’re keen to hear what you think about what we’re covering, or of any science or areas you’d like to know more about. We’re just at the end of an optic-fibre cable at weekly@cosmosmagazine.com.

Ian Connellan & Gail MacCallum

Cosmos weekly editors gail maccallum & ian connellan

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