In Part 1 of this essay, I examined the pitiful present and the glorious past of TV space journalism. However, what about the future of reporting on and (perhaps in the fullness of time) from space? We can’t go back to the past of Jules Bergman and Walter Cronkite The nature of both space exploration and the media have changed dramatically since the days of the Apollo program.

The best space journalists are on the web

While reporters with space expertise are someone thin on the ground on cable TV, a number of webzines and print periodicals have some excellent space and science reporters, Ones that come to mind are Eric Berger at Ars Technica, Jeff Foust at Space News, and Alan Boyle at Geek Wire.

Several others exist here and there in the media. They are well worth reading to get an excellent perspective in the evolving space sector.

What is a good cable news network to do for space reporting?

If you happen to have some influence in the programming of Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or any other network that covers news or science, pay attention. You need to start thinking of hiring some space expertise, the sooner, the better. For one thing, you are going to have competition from industry webcasts. SpaceX has an excellent operation along those lines, where they have young, enthusiastic engineers doubling as talking heads. They provide wall to wall coverage of SpaceX launches that the mainstream media tend only to devote a couple of minutes of airtime – if that.

Cable News could mine the web media that I mention above, if not as full-time on-air personalities, at least as contributors. Former astronauts, primarily if they can perform well in front of a camera, could also be a good source for on-air talent. Fox News has been using shuttle astronaut Tom Jones as a periodic guest for years.

Consider putting your straight news reporters through a training course in the history and present status of NASA, the space programs of other countries, and commercial space. If you happen to be the host of an opinion show, start researching these subjects. You’ll be interviewing people about space sooner than you think and you had best not ask about moon rocks unless your guest has brought some to show to the TV audience.

Finally, if NASA or a commercial space company starts up a “journalist in space” program, go for it. Nothing will boost ratings like one of your most telegenic and knowledgeable people reporting from the space station or, better, the surface of the moon.

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