EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

From carbon copy paper to AI: 36 years as a reporter for the BBC

Jonathan Charles David Amos Amos
Jonathan Charles David Amos Amos
  • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

I joined the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as a 22-year-old radio reporter in the city of Cambridge, in the east of England. At the time, I had the intention of becoming another John Cole, the late, great political editor of the BBC. Politics and social issues were what fascinated me. But a chance meeting one spring afternoon with a scientist at the city’s famous Laboratory of Molecular Biology changed the direction of my career. I was stunned by what this man had achieved (he would later win a Chemistry Nobel) and committed to becoming a journalist specialising in the reporting of science. This was problematic as I’d had no real science education at school. But seven years with the Open University as a mature student put that right, and in 1998 I found myself in the position of leading the science coverage on the fledgling BBC News website. I’ve been a full-time science hack ever since. When I started in journalism my tools were a reel-to-reel recorder, a typewriter and several sheets of carbon copy paper to produce my radio scripts in duplicate. Today, as I approach the end of my career, I operate in a fully digital newsroom with mp3 recorders, cloud computing and AI. My medal lecture will detail the journey from the old to the new. I will pass on some of the lessons learned (which should be of interest to those wanting to interact with journalists) and consider some of the challenges ahead for my profession.

How to cite: Amos, J. C. D. A.: From carbon copy paper to AI: 36 years as a reporter for the BBC, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-17598,, 2023.