Staff Writer on Biotechnology
New York, NY Remote
March 11, 2022
WIRED Science is looking for a biotechnology beat reporter to help us explore the cutting edge of the life sciences. Our ideal candidate is curious and intellectually omnivorous, someone who can tackle the possibilities and complexities of such a vast beat in a way that’s attuned to the future, but not prone to hype.
The Science Desk crafts engaging, scientifically rigorous stories for a readership that is smart and inquisitive, but not academic. We don’t just care about data, but about why it matters in the real world—in what ways could biotech approaches be applied to problems right now, and how might they help humanity counter the longer-term problems of a planet with a changing climate and a tendency to break out in pandemics?
The writers on our desk are often polymaths, and we care more about finding someone with great ideas, reporting skills, and writing chops than a person who fits neatly into a subject area. Your stories might tell us about anything from genetic experiments in agriculture to the use of synthetic biology to develop life-saving medications; from the climate resiliency of species to attempts to engineer textiles and building materials for a warmer world; from xenotransplants to senolytic treatments; from the future of reproduction to the augmentation of the human body; from mRNA to CRISPR. We aim to inspire and create wonder, but also to ask hard questions: we want someone who can grapple, thoroughly and compassionately, with the ethical dilemmas of the genomic age, such as incursions into genetic privacy, the species-altering potential of gene drive technology, or the race, class, and gender implications of practices like genetic screening and personalized medicine. We’re not here to cheerlead any industry, nor to promise miracle cures. Our best prose may read like science fiction, but it always has to be fact.
While this beat may occasionally verge into business or investigative reporting, our desk’s primary storytelling lens is through science, so we’re looking for a reporter who is comfortable parsing studies and clinical trial data, and interviewing researchers, doctors, patients and their advocates, farmers, wildlife biologists, environmentalists, and other experts whose hands-on experience informs the uses and limits of biotechnology. (It’s useful to be familiar with analyzing SEC filings and company documents, too, but most of our news stories are pegged to scientific, policy, or legislative milestones, not financial ones.) One of the challenges of biotech reporting is that stories often focus on things that are hard to visualize—either because they happen at tiny scales, or because they involve abstract concepts. Staff writers may have the opportunity to do field reporting, but because they must cover so much turf quickly, we’re looking for a reporter who can reliably craft vivid scenes and anecdotes through remote reporting to help these stories come to life.
Staff writers on the Science Desk typically turn around two stories a week. These are a mix of breaking news and deeper, more analytical stories. Writers also have the option to pitch longform narrative pieces to WIRED’s features editors. (If you’ve never written one of those, don’t worry: WIRED has some of the finest long-form editors in the business, and we love helping people who’ve got reporting chops and raw writing talent grows into gifted storytellers.) You might also get to take part in our podcasts, video series, or live events. We’ll encourage you to find and tell stories from all around the world, and you’ll be part of a growing and increasingly global newsroom of smart, kind, nerdy, and well-informed colleagues who are always brimming with ideas and eager to help each other out.
Our main offices are in San Francisco, New York and London, but we’re open to applicants based remotely in the UK and US, and potentially in other countries too; please indicate on your application if you’re based elsewhere.
Pitch, report, and write stories on the biotech beat, balancing news and analysis of the most important health stories with occasional investigative reporting or features
Collaborate with other members of the science team in shaping the WIRED coverage agenda for biotech-related issues
Collaborate with audio, video, events, and social media teams as needed to develop ways of telling stories about biotech on other platforms
Skills and qualifications:
Several years’ experience as a life sciences, medical/health, or (preferably) biotech journalist
A clear, engaging, jargon-free writing style