I am an award-winning science and technology journalist. A former staff writer for BBC News, my work has been appeared on the pages of The Economist, WIRED, Scientific American, BBC Future, New Scientist, Science, Nature and Space.com, among others. My TV reports have been featured on BBC World News, and I've appeared numerous times on BBC radio programmes, such as Science in Action, Click, and Europe Today.
Prior to the BBC, I worked as a freelancer at CBC Radio Canada, producing reports for the science radio show SciTech File, and also at the Associated Press in Moscow.
I write about a variety of subjects, but most of all I love physics and space. Say the magic word "quantum" and you've got my attention.
This article by Isabelle Summerson at European Journalism Centre gives an idea about what I actually do.
Katia Moskvitch is unequivocal about the best part of her job.
As a BBC reporter, she brings science and technology research and discoveries to the public. Her role is to make complex stories from these fields accessible to anyone. And that’s which is exactly what helped her win the European Astronomy Journalism Prize this September with a feature story on the world’s biggest optical telescope facility.
Her award-winning series focused on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope array (VLT) in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Moskvitch, 32, travelled to South America to report on the observatory and the science at work there. She was able to draw on her background in engineering to write about the technological aspects of the telescopes and understand what the scientists and engineers were telling her.
Born in Russia, Moskvitch moved to Canada in her early teens. There, as a high school student, she decided to pursue a career in science.
“I’ve always dreamt of being an astronaut, and I found out that one of the first Canadian astronauts went to the same high school as me,” she says.
Inspired, Moskvitch wrote to Dr. Julie Payette asking for advice on what to study after high school - and was surprised to receive a response. In her letter, Payette recommended studying engineering. Heeding this advice, Moskvitch entered McGill University to earn a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering.
After university, Moskvitch interned for CBC Radio’s Sci Tech File. It was there she decided she would combine what she had already learned with her second great interest, journalism. Instead of becoming an astronaut, she pursued a career in science reporting.
Her boss at CBC, Victor Nerenberg, who she describes as “one of the biggest inspirations,” encouraged her to apply for a Masters of Arts in Journalism program at the University of Western Ontario.
Some time after graduation and moving to Europe, Moskvitch won the BBC’s prestigious Ivan Noble bursary for aspiring science journalists. She then landed her first job with the corporation as an online reporter at the Science section of the BBC News. From there she moved to the Technology section, but continues to write stories that crossover between the two disciplines.
Now a well-established technology reporter, a typical day at the BBC means trawling science and technology blogs, contacting universities and institutes to find out what they’re doing, and using social media to find breaking stories.
“Social media plays quite a big role,” she says. “Especially Twitter and Linkedin.”
As @SciTech_Cat, she follows journalists, PR people, scientists and engineering organisations around the world. Twitter is also a good way to find a human angle for a story, she adds. While researching in-flight internet she used it to ask for peoples’ experiences with the service.
“Social networks widen the pool of views I can take account of in my journalism. It means I’m able to hear the experiences of users outside my immediate circle,” she says.
Moskvitch specialises in science and technology crossover stories.
“I really like to find something that nobody else has or to find an interesting angle on a particular story.”
Having a specialised background has helped her a lot, but on-the-job learning is also a fundamental part of her work. The articles she did while at the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile, for example, focused on the crossover between astronomy and engineering, fields she knows well. But when she didn’t understand something she applied the basic journalistic principle of asking until it becomes clear.
Nevertheless, she strongly recommends anyone considering a career like hers do a scientific or technical degree before going into journalism. It gives the journalist greater credibility in the eyes of those they’re interviewing. Plus, “you also have a much better chance to get a good job in the area you want,” she says.
The other advice she gives is to be open-minded to feedback from co-workers and the audience.
“You have to be really receptive and just listen.”
Katia Moskvitch has also been shortlisted in two categories for BT Information Security Journalism Award, and for TechMark’s Technology Journalist of the Year award. The winners for both awards will be announced in November.