Matthew C. Nisbet (Associate Professor of Communication and Co-Director of the Center for Social Media in Washington, @MCNisbet) examines writer-turned-activist Bill McKibben’s (@billmckibben) career and impact on the debate over climate change:
“McKibben is an example of what Nisbet calls a ‘knowledge journalist,’ a special class of public intellectual who writes journalistically, but who unlike most of their journalistic peers specializes in the translation of complex subjects, often championing specific policy positions or causes. These writers tend to view the world deductively, immersing themselves in the synthesis of complex areas of research, offering analysis across cases and events. Yet, they are also sometimes criticized for their characterization of uncertainty, for imposing their point-of-view, for lacking specialized credentials, for reducing explanations to a single idea, theory, or field; and often, for blurring the lines between journalism and activism. […]”
Nisbet’s full paper is online under CC licence (57 pp + endnotes).
There is also a discussion going on about the paper at the New York Times (incl. video interviews with both Nisbet and McKibben).