Multimedia Journalist: Kyle Hill

Kyle Hill is the Chief Science Officer and science communicator for Nerdist.com. He was named one of the top 20 science communicators to follow in 2013 by WIRED magazine. His work has appeared in WIRED, Popular Science, Slate, The Boston Globe, Nautilus, io9, and more. He has made appearances on Fox News, Al Jazeera America, and Huffington Post Live, as well as having co-hosted Al Jazeera America’s science show TechKnow. He has also held writing positions at Nature Education and Discover Magazine.

1. Full Article

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According to Kyle Hill, his December 4, 2013 article “Chernobyl’s Hot Mess, “the Elephant’s Foot,” is still lethal,” is his favorite work to date. This article is an excellent example of good journalism. Hill describes the topic he is discussing in a way that is engaging as well as informative, making it easy for even those not adept at science to understand. This is no easy task when that topic is nuclear physics.

 

2. Full Article

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Kyle Hill’s article “Why You Should Envy, But Not Worship Sherlock Holmes”, written for Scientific American, is another example of excellent writing. Hill took a topic of pop culture interest and applied genuine scientific knowledge to it, thus expanding upon the subject in a way that takes the show to an even greater depth for viewers with an interest in the science behind it.

3.

Appearing as a scientific corespondent on this Al Jazeera America segment TechKnow, Kyle Hill discusses research on concussions in football. This segment shows viewers a different area of Hill’s scientific background. He is able to relate the data from research scientists’ findings to viewers in a way that makes it understandable to general audiences.

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In this article, Kyle Hill attempts to prove a scene of a television show wrong with physics. Though Hill’s calculations prove that the show did in fact get the scene in question right, it is the discussion that he makes throughout the course of the article that makes it interesting. Hill is able to admit that his attempt at proving the show wrong was not successful, but in doing so he gives the insight that it is better that he did not prove the show wrong because it would have opened a whole new can of worms had he been able to. He commends the show for this reason, making the point that it takes a great narrative to make people care so much about a character.

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Kyle Hill’s article about a real-life Star Trek tricorder is a great example of multimedia journalism. Hill uses a video with the general story captioned on screen as the feature of the article, while explaining the full story in greater detail within the article itself. This clearly shows Hill’s understanding of the use of multimedia in journalism. The revelation of this new technology was a big development, and it was important for the news article reporting it to be engaging and interesting. Hill pulled this off extremely well.

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“Diamonds: A Doctor’s Best Friend” was an article written by Kyle Hill as part of a series called Reductio ad Absurdum, which, instead of trying to disprove pseudoscientific ideas, presents the ways the world would be different if they were true. This is a very interesting take on scientific writing, and Hill is able to disprove many of these ideas by explaining what would actually be going on if they were true, rather than offering up contrary evidence that could be debated. The idea behind this series of articles is very unique, and Hill is able to present the material in such a way that it is obvious the ideas are absurd.

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The article “Zombie-proof your home”, written for The Boston Globe by Kyle Hill, is yet another example of Hill taking a topic of interest in pop-culture and delving deeper into the scientific side of it. This article presents realistic steps in avoiding zombie infections seeping into one’s home, based on real-life prevention methods for infections such as Ebola or smallpox. Hill’s knack for more closely examining the science side of different elements in pop-culture is once again evidenced in this humorous, but also well thought out and insightful article that would come in handy in the event of a zombie epidemic.

8.

In this clip, Kyle Hill takes a new approach to television as host of the show “Mythbusters: The Search.” This is a good example of Hill’s ability to adapt to different presentation methods. Hill has said that he tries to communicate in different ways based on the medium he is working with. Hill said, “Personality, the way I communicate, changes from project to project but the passion is always there.”

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Kyle Hill wrote the article “Why Can’t Anyone Recognize Superman?” for Slate on June 14, 2013. This is another good example of his ability to tie pop culture to science in a way that makes it entertaining and understandable to readers, as well as taking the topic more in-depth. In this article, Hill examines the reason that people are unable to recognize superman, covering a real-life phenomenon that explains this. Hill also based an episode of his web show “Because Science” on this topic. To watch that video, click here.

10.

This video is one of Kyle Hill’s ongoing web series, Nerdist Industries’ “Because Science.” In this video, Hill breaks down the science of how the X-men mutant Quicksilver listens to nearly three minutes of music in the span of only a few milliseconds. Though it is a different medium, Hill again sticks with his niche of pop culture science. This is once again an example of phenomenal multimedia journalism.

 

Critique

The above examples of Kyle Hill’s work are just a few of his many different pieces across several mediums. There are similarities and differences across Hill’s spectrum of work, but the common denominator is definitely his passion. Hill clearly has a knack for what he does, and it is his passion that gives rise to his talent. What makes him a great multimedia journalist, however, is his ability to adapt that talent across a spectrum of different mediums, as has been demonstrated several times in the above descriptions. Hill is able to convey the concepts he is discussing in a way that will be well received in whichever medium he is using. Hill went to school for civil and environmental engineering as well as communication, graduating from Marquette University in 2013. Hill said that toward the end of his undergraduate in engineering, he discovered that he liked talking about and explaining science rather than simply doing it,  thus he went on to get his masters of arts in communication. This combination of education has clearly proven to be beneficial in Hill’s career.
What sets Kyle Hill apart as a talented multimedia journalist is also his general focus on combining pop culture and science in his work. It is clear that Hill enjoys working in this niche. Regarding journalistic work, Hill said, “They say write about what you know, but that implies you know about it because you care a lot about it. Make sure that is true for you. Write about what you care about. Readers can always tell where the passion is. Practically, you can tell when a writer is interested — fun word choice, interesting sentence structure, clever paragraph ordering — so be that writer when you can. That’s the stuff you’ll be proud of.” It is clear that Hill has followed his own advice. Being a self-stated fanboy, Hill is able to delve into fantastic worlds of fiction and bring them a bit closer to reality for not only himself, but for his viewers and readers as well.
Hill is also able to step out of his pop culture niche to explore other areas of science. Even when writing or speaking about topics that non-science-oriented people may deem “boring” or “dull”, Hill is able to bring life to them in ways that can make said topics fun and interesting to learn about. This is yet another reason he is a great multimedia journalist. No matter the topic, Hill is able to put a unique and interest-piquing twist on it to make it his own and capture the attention of readers or viewers. This again comes back to the unifying factor in all of Hill’s work: his passion for science and answering its questions. Be it pop culture or good old-fashioned science, Hill clearly strives to not only know the answers, but to be able to share them with audiences in a way that allows them to understand them. Hill’s work could not be summed up better than in his own words: “There are no dumb questions.”

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