Rina Diane Caballar is a Filipina freelance tech and science journalist based in New Zealand. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, BBC Travel, PRI, and IEEE Spectrum, among other outlets. She’s a software engineer by training but a writer by passion, holding a master’s degree in computer science.
1. Why did you choose to become a science journalist?
I’m actually more of a tech journalist. After working in the tech industry for over a decade, I decided that I was better at writing than coding. I covered various topics at first, then settled into tech, which was a natural course to take given my background. But I’ve always been interested in the intersection of science and technology — the inevitability of one existing without the other. I love the challenge of reporting about science and tech topics in an accurate and engaging way, and keeping the public informed through my writing.
2. What role do science and science communication play in your country?
In my two countries, the Philippines and New Zealand, science plays an integral role in society’s progress and development, and science communication helps build the bridge between scientists and the people whose lives they’re trying to improve. Science journalists help scientists disseminate knowledge about their discoveries and help the public understand how these discoveries could impact them.
3. What are the main challenges of science journalism in your country?
I’ll pick the Philippines here. Science journalism in the Philippines is under-resourced and undervalued. Other more pressing topics, such as breaking news and politics, take precedence. Another challenge is presenting the science in a way that a non-scientific or non-academic audience can understand and relate to.
4. Where do you see the big societal transformations in the future? What scientific research/discovery will change our world?
I think migration and diversity have the power to transform society in the future. Research in the fields of artificial intelligence, renewable energy, conservation and biodiversity, and space have the potential to change our world.
5. What book, movie or song has radically changed your perspective? And why?
It’s hard to pick just one book or movie. Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, inspired me to embrace who I was and who I am so I can be who I want to be. Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl and Richard Powers’ The Overstory made me realize that there are living beings far more complex than us, and that so much of our lives as humans depend on them. Sonic Highways, the Foo Fighters’ documentary miniseries, showed me that I can take a risk and pursue my passion.