Interview with Jane Palmer, PhD: A Freelance Journalist Perspective

We’re continuing our series that focuses on different types of writing that can be done within the larger medical and science writing umbrella. This interview is with Jane Palmer, PhD, whose specialty is science journalism.


Jane is an independent freelance print journalist and radio journalist and whose work focuses on the environment, science, health and technology. She writes regularly for BBC Earth, BBC Future and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and produces radio shows for Colorado Public Radio and “How On Earth,” a weekly science show on KGNU community radio (Denver/Boulder area). You can find out more about Jane and the services she provides at

Interview Jane Palmer.jpg

Key Takeaways:

  • 0:57 - How Jane got her start in science journalism

  • 3:26 - The turning point when Jane realized that she wanted to freelance

  • 4:35 - Project deliverables in science journalism

  • 6:07 - How Jane prepares her pitches for editors

  • 10:45 - What to do when a pitch isn’t accepted on the first try

  • 11:50 - The keys to success in journalism

  • 12:46 - Why building a “family” of editors is so important

  • 14:09 - Reasons for the shortage of good writers

  • 16:30 - Key factors that are critical to freelancing beyond the writing itself

  • 20:35 - Pay structure for science journalism

  • 23:15 - Advantages and disadvantages of working for yourself

  • 28:25 - Characteristics and personal traits that are suitable for journalism

  • 30:43 - One big mistake of new freelancers

  • 33:08 - How tackling new topics allows you to go deeper with clients

  • 36:40 - Remembering your target audience

  • 37:40 - Potential pitfalls in journalism

  • 41:29 - One piece of advice for anyone looking to get into science journalism

Resources mentioned:

Jane also recommends:

Jennifer Gregg