Valentine Delattre: “YouTube also enables you to share science with an audience that is normally very difficult to reach.”

Valentine DelattreOpinion: Interview with Valentine Delattre on the changing landscape of science-communication on YouTube

Valentine Delattre is a French science journalist and video creator. She is the creator of the YouTube channel Science de comptoir, where she uses humour to popularise life and earth sciences. She participated in the panel ‘Telling climate stories’, on Friday 9 June 2023 at the EYE2023, during the ESMH summer school ‘Storytelling in science’.

What motivated you to start a YouTube channel and create science-based content?

Valentine Delattre: I’ve always been interested in science, especially in geology. Geology is full of breathtaking stories awaiting to be told and rocks can help us comprehend events and timescales that we cannot quite grasp! I have also always enjoyed writing and seen science journalism as a way to follow both of my passions. But it wasn’t until I undertook a Masters in science journalism focusing on audio and visual media that I discovered scientific content on YouTube. This led me to create my first ever YouTube video which was about how clever pigeons are. I absolutely loved every step of the processes and viewers seemed to enjoy it too – so I kept going and it turned into a career!

What are some of the benefits of creating YouTube content compared with traditional media?

Valentine Delattre: I really enjoy using a video format to share information about science because you can explain scientific processes verbally, show graphs and examples visually, use sound effects and music, and demonstrate processes by virtually drawing them. YouTube also enables you to share science with an audience that is normally very difficult to reach.

I was initially surprised by how much I enjoyed making science content on YouTube but I really do appreciate every part of the process: from researching a topic to writing the script and shooting the video, and then then editing it.

What are some of the challenges that you have when creating YouTube content?

Valentine Delattre: Creating engaging video content takes an awful lot of time compared with writing an article. The editing phase in particular takes a huge amount of time! This makes it difficult to publish a lot of content and you have to be more selective about what you cover. You also need to develop a lot of different types of skills, not just writing.

How has the media landscape and the perception of YouTube changed since you started creating content on YouTube?

Valentine Delattre: YouTube content and creators are now taken a lot more seriously by traditional media outlets and other industries. When I first started seven years ago, traditional media outlets thought YouTube creators were a bit of a joke. Then they saw us as competitors. But now, we work together because we are all going in the same direction and supporting the dissemination of science into society. I now collaborate with several French media outlets and institutions including Sciences et Avenir, the National Museum of Natural History, Milan Presse, and Arte. So, I’ve moved from science journalism to science YouTube and then back to science journalism as the media landscape has shifted!

What do you think science communication on YouTube will look like in the future?

Valentine Delattre: Science communication content on YouTube and across social media platforms will continue to diversify and there will be more specific content for those in different demographics. This will include a greater variety of content created in languages other than English and for groups with varying levels of education and interests.

We will also see more traditional forms of media generating content that goes beyond written articles and that is able to reach a wider audience. Some outlets, such as Le  Monde are now publishing both written articles and video content. Le Monde actually has a full team of content producers for social media including snapchat, tiktok, Instagram, and YouTube. I am a big fan of their explanatory videos on YouTube which include a lot of animations and infographics! It is exciting to see new initiatives and platforms becoming more established but there is still lots of potential that we need to explore to create science content that will resonate with diverse audiences!

What are your recommendations for those who want to start their own science communication channel?

Valentine Delattre: Do it with passion. Don’t look at the numbers. When you first start, it’s important that you enjoy it rather than aim to be successful or to make money from it. YouTube is also full of content creator communities who support and motivate each other. Being a science YouTuber can be quite lonely sometimes because you spend most of your time writing and editing in front of your computer. So, meeting with your fellow science communicators can really help you break that loneliness for a while and have a good time! Personally, I’m part of a French-speaking science communicators group called Café des Sciences. Being a part of this group has allowed me to share my experiences, learn about science-related events and opportunities, and to make friends that share my interests and profession.

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