Capital Science Communicators

Capital Science Communicators (CapSciComm)

Group Details

Mission Statement: To connect science communicators in California’s Capital Region with resources and networks for professional advancement.

Vision Statement: Sustained science literacy among citizens and decision makers in the Capital Region through the support of science communication professionals.

Operations: CapSciComm is led by a volunteer board. Currently undergoing reorganization plan.

Funding: None currently.

Membership: No criteria or dues currently, but will change with reorganization plan.

Programming: Organized by board members. Core activities include networking socials, science tours (hikes at local sites; facility tours), occasional workshops, and special events. CapSciComm also supports and promotes local science café series (five active), providing marketing and networking support, as well as hosting an annual planning retreat.

Successes and Challenges

Three Successes:

  1. Engaging policy professionals (CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows).
  2. Cultivating and supporting local science cafés.
  3. Fostering big-tent community feel via job links and socials (adapted from SCONC).

Three Challenges:

  1. Recruiting journalist members (poor science media market).
  2. Recruiting institutional members (agency, university writers, and PIOs).
  3. Balancing programming + mission with burnout + funding.

About the Region

CapSciComm community members (~700 on listserv) span science journalists, PIOs, science writers, policy staffers, outreach educators, and many graduate student researchers — all working and living in Sacramento, Davis, and beyond.

Geographic Setting: Sacramento is a young, increasingly hip, government town nested within culturally conservative suburbia and agricultural lands. It is the seat of the California state government — decisionmakers for the world's fifth largest economy. Government and health care are the two largest employers. Agriculture, food, and hospitality are important sectors (Sacramento brands itself as the "America's Farm to Fork Capital"), and the outdoor industry is also strong, with Lake Tahoe (skiing), the American River (rafting), and the Sierra Nevada (climbing, hiking, camping) nearby.

Media Community: The media market is populated by capital bureaus of state and national level outlets (e.g. AP, Los Angeles Times, Politico) and by local outlets. The regional print daily is The Sacramento Bee, the NPR affiliate is Capital Public Radio (KXJZ/KXPR), and the dominant alt weekly is the Sacramento News & Review. Business coverage is led by Comstock's (monthly magazine) and Sacramento Business Journal (weekly). All broadcast networks are represented locally (ABC, CBS/CW, NBC, FOX). Other brands include The Davis Enterprise, the Daily Democrat, KFBK News, and others. Major outlets have staff positions in environmental reporting (water is a focal issue) and health care reporting. However, there are no staff journalists in the region with the title "science reporter".

Science Community: With a logjam of municipal, state, and federal offices — managing issues spanning public health, natural resources, energy, transportation, agriculture, public utilities — there is a high number of government PIOs and communicators working in the greater Sacramento region. University of California, Davis is the leading research university and teaching hospital, and hires a range of PIOs and science writers. Nonprofit and private industry staff are also present. The Powerhouse Science Center is the primary science museum (currently constructing a new facility).