Guardian science boost

The Guardian is to boost its coverage of science with a mission to produce 'more clarity on the big issues', according to a spokeswoman.

The environment, genetically modified food, cloning and genetic engineering will feature heavily on the paper's news agenda in future - despite the fact that there will be no increase in pagination.

Two new specialist writers will join science editor Tim Radford and existing science correspondent James Meek as part of a team which reports to the home newsdesk.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger was unavailable for comment as PRWeek went to press, but he has a well-publicised interest in issues such as GM food. He co-wrote last June's BBC drama Fields of Gold, a conspiracy thriller which characterised GM crops as dangerous. He said at the time that the programme would 'engage a mass audience and make them question the issues behind it' if it were successful, and appears to be applying that ethos to his paper.

In a statement he said: 'We are responding to what we feel is a real demand for more clear and concise writing on science. Our expansion of this area will allow us to report on ... a whole range of natural and physical science issues.'

The new writers will contribute to the main paper's news section, the Guardian Unlimited website and the science portion of the Online supplement on Thursdays.

The spokeswoman said that pressure for change was not only coming from mainstream readers: 'Scientists were also calling for better writing (on science issues) from newspapers. Science is becoming really popular.'

In a separate development, The Guardian has promoted Ian Prior to deputy sports editor. He replaces Mike Herd, who is going travelling. As part of the change, Adam Sills will produce the Saturday sports section and assume wider responsibility for features across the sports pages.

Prior was formerly the paper's chief sports sub editor. Before joining The Guardian in 1999, he was Irish Mirror deputy sports editor. He reports to sports editor Ben Clissitt.

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