Summer School

News

From today's Press Gazette, news that Pallab (ABSW member and former President of the Association) was awarded Science and Technology Journalist of the Year last night:
 
Science and Technology Journalist of the Year (sponsored by Astellas) – Pallab Ghosh, BBC
 
The BBC’s Pallab Ghosh won the science and technology award for his reports exposing the failure of the Government’s badger culling programme.
 
The judges said: “This was one of those stories where if it wasn’t for people like Pallab the Governnent would have got away with doing what it wanted and ignoring the advice of its own scientists.
 
“There had been previous work where scientists had expressed concerns about the badger culls, lots of journalists were following this up. But Pallab was the only one to get hold of Defra’s own unpublished report showing that the culls were ineffective and inhumane.”
 
Read the full story in the Press Gazette
 

By Mike Harrison

© Mike Harrison

 

I represent the ABSW on the national committee of the Creators’ Rights Alliance. We’re conducting a piece of anonymous research to determine the extent of unfair contract practices experienced by creators – writers, photographers, videographers, designers, composers, and so on. 
 
The CRA has lobbied the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger. He has agreed to consider our case for possible changes in the law or the introduction of a model code of practice for commissioning creative material if we can demonstrate sufficient malpractice to warrant it.
 
To gather evidence we developed a short questionnaire for ABSW members. The data collection is now complete so many thanks to those of you that took the time to complete the survey. 
 
There is already evidence of the need for change where self-employed creators are concerned but staff and other creators subject to contracts of employment also say they’re less than happy about the way their work is handled. Occasionally editorial and managerial staff will say that they’re embarrassed by conditions they have to impose on freelances.
 
The idea of the survey is to gain some statistical understanding of the extent of the problem in the fields of operation of ABSW members. Other CRA member bodies are doing the same.
 

Pride

As a writer or any other kind of creator for publication you can take pride in being at the heart of one of Britain’s economic successes. Publishing in all media is booming here and your inventiveness, imagination, research skill, interviewing ability or whatever is the very feedstock of what the Government likes to call “The Creative Economy”. Without a steady input of creative originality publishing in all media would dry up and die.
 
You’d think that economically aware ministers and responsible publishers would want to foster that talent but the consensus amongst the numerous representative bodies forming the Creators’ Rights Alliance is that, for many creators, working conditions are drifting towards sweat-shop level. 
 
Most affected by this shift are the self-employed freelances who make up a growing proportion of the creative workforce. Every commission they undertake is a separate business deal and subject to negotiation. Concept, content, delivery arrangements and payment, and licence terms all have to be agreed.
 
In that respect the freelance creator is in exactly the same boat as any small business proprietor providing a service except that in our case digital distribution is virtually uncontrollable without complete trust between creator and publisher allied with sound laws.
 
Just as with a builder, tailor, or garden designer the media creator hopes that a job done well will encourage repeat business and the negotiating clout to ask for bigger fees. It’s an inherently healthy economic model. Success breeds success, the untalented go to the wall, the quality of the product evolves upwards.
 

Prejudice

Everyone a winner? Well, up to a point. But there is evidence of serious asymmetry in deal-making between the Davids – the one-man-band freelances and contractors – and the Goliath corporations they feed. It’s very tough to challenge an editor who’s in a hurry, with dozens of slots to fill every month and determined to beat you down in price. The hope that you may get a bite at a bigger cake if you take the pain and play along with the demands tends to sap courage.
 
There are also unreasonable demands for “indemnity” in which the freelance is required to take sole responsibility for the accuracy and legality of the material, not just as supplied but as published.
 
Isn’t that their job? In that Kafka-esque thinking a meddling editor could land you with a bankruptcy risk. The cost of insuring the risk might be many times the fee received.
 
Downright unfair contract practices are becoming common amongst commissioning bodies. The worst of these involve retrospective imposition of conditions. The creator may have confirmed verbally or in writing exactly what they thought they’d been asked to do – thus creating a contract in law – but it is not uncommon to find that previously unseen “terms and conditions” suddenly materialise late in the game, often long after delivery and acceptance. These might, for example demand “all rights in all media” thus denying the creator the opportunity to make later, secondary sales. The new demand might be backed by the threat: “Sign this or you won’t get paid”.
 
One extreme example of the “all rights” copyright grab is the case of a tiny specialist magazine circulating a few thousand copies a month in the UK. They pleaded poverty and the writer agreed a barely worthwhile licence fee for “first British rights” hoping for a steady flow of small commissions. Even before the piece appeared in the UK it was published in an Australian publication belonging to the same group and distributing nearly a quarter of a million copies monthly across Australasia. 
 
In fact that ended up as a minor success story. It occurred soon after the introduction of a new Small Claims Court qualified to deal with copyright disputes. The injured author initiated a claim for a more appropriate fee and days before it was due to be heard received settlement. 
 
That was a rare instance of the power of lobbying. Previously the Small Claims Courts were forbidden from hearing intellectual property cases on the grounds that they required too much specialist knowledge. The CRA was amongst the bodies that argued for greater fairness. 
 
But, to judge by information received by the CRA, the list of abuses continues to grow. 
 
Once the ABSW survey data is examined we will report back and keep you up dated on the continuing work of the CRA on this issue.
 
If you wish to contribute any thoughts on this matter do of course email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
Mike Harrison
ABSW/CRA
From the Royal Society website...
 
Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books
 
Mark Miodownik’s Stuff Matters has won the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.
 
This prestigious prize celebrates outstanding popular science books from around the world and is open to authors of science books written for a non-specialist audience.
 
The winner was announced at a public award event on 10 November 2014. The author of the winning book receives £25,000 and £2,500 each is awarded to the authors of the five shortlisted books.
 
 

Martin’s update

Welcome to the first in what I intend to be regular updates on what is happening within your Association.

The ABSW no longer has a regular newsletter and our website, google discussion group (ABSW-L) and twitter and Facebook accounts have taken over the role of the printed Science Reporter as the means by which we communicate with members.

However at the last meeting of the Board it was suggested that I should be letting members know of the Board’s activities and that this might best be done by direct contact through our direct mailing list.   So here goes…

New Board Member

Say hello to your latest Board member, Joshua Howgego, deputy news and opinions editor, SciDev.Net, who was co-opted to the Board at our meeting in September.   At our elections in March we did not fill all the vacant places on the Board so we were delighted that Joshua put himself forward to in his words, ‘represent the interests of early career journalists, especially in the not-for-profit sector.’

Creators’ Rights Alliance

The Creators' Rights Alliance brings together the major organisations representing copyright creators and content providers throughout the media.

The CRA campaigns to: Confront growing abuses of creators' rights in all media, particularly newspapers, magazines and broadcasting; defend and improve the intellectual property rights of creators belonging to the member organisations; Promote greater understanding of creators' intellectual property rights within the industry and among the public.

The ABSW is a member of the CRA and is represented on the CRA by ABSW member Mike Harrison.

Mike is in the process of writing an article on the current activities of the CRA for the ABSW website, the article will link to a form that members can use to provide anonymous feedback to Mike on issues they may have with intellectual property rights. Mike will then be able to better reflect the needs of science writers/broadcasters and journalists to the Alliance.

Future activities of the ABSW

The ABSW runs a small programme of events throughout the year.   Events this year to date have been the biennial UK Conference of Science Journalists, ABSW Awards Ceremony, the annual late Xmas party, an ABSW Panel debate on Investigative Journalism, and the AGM and post AGM members drinks.  Our next event is on Wednesday 29 Octoberas part of the Science Museum Lates, where Professor Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Advisor will be in conversation with ABSW Member and Channel 4 Science Correspondent Tom Clarke.

The Board has been considering how it can better meet the needs of all its members through events.   Moves are afoot to extend our reach outside of London to a programme of regional events.   We are also looking at the potential for a Summer School type event for students and/or early career science writers and journalists.  

To help us programme events that fit your interests and/or needs for skills development there is now a form on the ABSW website for you to feedback your ideas to us.   Your idea for an event can be as simple as a title or generalsubject area or can be much more fully formed with ideas for speakers/venues etc.   You don’t need to take an active role in organising any event you propose either, although volunteers are always welcome.   So do make the most of this new way of letting us know what events you would like to see programmed.

ABSW Awards

The Awards are now well and truly re-established, and we presented eleven awardsat our Ceremony in June this year.   The Awards are financially secure for a further two years as we have now signed an agreement for continued support with Janssen Research and Development.   A key part of this agreement is the introduction of a further Award for European Science Writer of the year, more will follow on this new Award but it will enable you to nominate your chosen British Science Writer of the Year to be judged against those nominated by the other science journalism associations throughout Europe.

As the year comes to a close it might also be a good time for you to reflect on your work over the past months in order to choose what you might enter for the Awards in the Spring.  

That is all from me for now but I will send a further update after our next Board meeting in November.  Of course if you have any feedback on this proposed regular President’s update then do get in touch through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All the best

 

Martin Ince, President, ABSW

 

 

Statement from the ABSW Board regarding EUSJA
 
The Association of British Science Writers has been a member of the European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations (EUSJA), for many years and pays an annual fee for its membership.  The ABSW is also a member of the World Federation of Science Journalists, the organisation behind the World Conference of Science Journalists that the ABSW held successfully in London in 2009.   The ABSW is keen to ensure that there is added value to its members from belonging to such international groups.
 
On March 27 2014 the board of the ABSW met and decided that the membership of EUSJA is no longer in the ABSW’s interests. EUSJA has been notified of this decision.
 
The ABSW is in discussion with some other European associations with the aim of forming a new European Federation of Science Journalism.
 
Martin Ince
President, on behalf of the ABSW Board
 
The finalists in the Press Gazette British Journalism Awards have now been announced.   A few ABSW members have made it to the shortlist for Science and Technology Journalist of the Year.   Winners will be announced on Tuesday 2 December. 
 
Science and Technology Journalist of the Year - sponsored by Astellas
 
Chris Smyth – The Times
 
‘NHS urged to claw back huge payoffs for managers’, £1m payoff, then NHS brings back managers’ and ‘Alarm over shortage of nurses on NHS wards’.
 
Pilita Clark – The Financial Times
 
Investigation into the global water crisis.
 
Steve Connor – The Independent/i
 
‘The lost girls’ (on illegal abortions), ‘The next genetic revolution’ and ‘One girl, three parents?’.
 
Ian Sample – The Guardian
 
‘Leading doctors raise alarm over delays to medical trials’,  ‘US scientists boycott Nasa conference over China ban’ and ‘Handle with care ‘.
 
Kate Kelland – Reuters
 
‘Saudi Arabia takes heat for spread of MERS virus’, ‘In virus hunt, Saudi Arabia suspects African camel imports’ and ‘Patients recruited for vital studies on Saudi MERS virus’.
 
Pallab Ghosh – BBC
 
‘Badger trials were ineffective and failed humanness test’ and ‘Ministers willfully ignoring scientific advice’.
The winners of the Association of British Science Writers Awards for Britain and Ireland 2014 were announced at an Awards ceremony tonight (Wednesday 18 June).  Speaking at the ceremony Martin Ince, President of the ABSW, said; ‘It was wonderful to see so many colleagues both old and new at the ABSW Awards Ceremony this evening and to celebrate all that is great about British and Irish science journalism and writing.  Support from Janssen Research and Development enabled us to re-establish our Awards in 2010, and we now offer ten awards including new awards this year for blogging and for student science publications.  We are particularly pleased to see such good representation from Irish journalists in the shortlists and winners, as the support from Janssen R & D enabled us to extend our Awards to Ireland. Next year we will be introducing a category of European Science Journalist of the Year to further expand our celebration of great science journalism to the rest of Europe. ’  
 
ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland - Winners
 
The best feature 
Winner:  Jessa Gamble, Researcher at Arup, for The End of Sleep? published by Aeon Magazine (online), 10-04-2013
Runners Up:
Stuart Clark, Freelance, for Ear on the Universe, published by New Scientist, 21-09-2013
Michael Le Page, Biology and environment editor at New Scientist, for The lowdown on the slowdown published by New Scientist, 07-12-2013
 
The best news item
Winner: Ian Sample, Science Correspondent, The Guardian, for US scientists boycott Nasa conference over China ban published by The Guardian, 05-10-2013
Runners Up:
Ewen Callaway, Senior Reporter, Nature for Deal done over HeLa cell line published by Nature 07-08-2013
Robin McKie, Science and Technology Editor, The Observer, for Gene Wars: the last ditch battle over who owns the rights to our DNA published by The Observer, 21-04-2013
 
The best scripted/edited television programme or online video:
Winner: Team Entry: Jacqueline Smith (Executive Producer, BBC Television and Series Producer), Nathan Budd (Producer), James Logan (Presenter), for Insect Dissection: How Insects Work broadcast BBC Four, 20-03-2013. The programme was a co-production between BBC Four and Discovery Science.
Runners Up:
Team Entry: Paul Olding (Writer/Producer/Director), Freelance and Michael Scott (Presenter/Writer), Historian, for The Mystery of Rome’s X Tombs broadcast BBC Two, 29-07-2013
Team Entry: Will Goodbody, Science and Technology Correspondent, RTÉ and Paul Deighan, RTÉ news cameraman, for Irish scientists at CERN’s cutting edge broadcast on Nationwide on RTÉ1, 18-10-2013
 
The Royal Society Radio Prize (NB: A prize for the best scripted/edited radio programme or podcast, supported by The Royal Society)
Winner: Team Entry: Anne McNaught (BBC Radio Scotland Producer) and Euan McIlwraith (Presenter) for Scotland’s Wildlife: Supporting Native Species, broadcast BBC Schools Radio, Scotland, 26-09-2013
Runners Up:
Team Entry: Alex Bellos (Writer/Research) and Andrew Luck-Baker (BBC Radio Producer) for Nirvana by Numbers broadcast BBC Radio 4, 07-10-2013
Team Entry: Kerri Smith (Audio Editor/Journalist, Nature) and Charlotte Stoddart (Audio Editor/Journalist, Nature), for Nature PastCast: May 1985, published by Nature Podcasts, 17-05-2013
 
The best investigative journalism
Winner: Team Entry: Mike Power (Writer), Bobbie Johnson (Editor), Kristen French (Fact checker), Tim Heffernan (Copy editor) for Uncontrolled Substances published by MATTER, 25-10-2013
Runners Up:
Alison Abbott, Senior European Correspondent at Nature for Italian Stem-Cell Trial based on flawed data published Nature News website, 02-07-2013
Steve Connor, Science Editor at the Independent for Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science published by the Independent, 25-01-2013
 
The NUJ Stephen White Award for best communication and reporting of science in a non science context.   This Award is made in memory of Stephen White, a highly influential science communicator who sadly died in 2010.   The Award is possible due to a donation from Stephen’s widow Elizabeth. 
Winner: Christopher White, freelance, for The complete guide to DNA for family historians published by Your Family Tree Magazine, 27-03-2013
Runners Up:
Team Entry: Michelle Martin (BBC Science Radio Producer), Tracey Logan (Presenter) for Technicolour broadcast BBC Radio 4, 30-01-2013
Team Entry: Will Goodbody, Science and Technology Correspondent, RTÉ and Paul Deighan, RTÉ news cameraman, for Irish scientists at CERN’s cutting edge broadcast Nationwide on RTÉ1, 18-10-2013
 
The best newcomer award
Winner: Joanne O’Dea, Freelance
Runners Up:
Melissa Hogenboom, Assistant Producer/Science reporter BBC
Jennifer Whyntie, Assistant Producer, BBC
 
The Good Thinking student science blog award supported by Good Thinking (new award for 2014):
Winner: Sarah Hearne, PhD student, Department of Zoology, Trinity College Dublin, for Sea Serpents off the Port Bow! Published by ecoevoblog.com, 01-11-2013
Runners Up:
Lauren Hoskin, MSc Science Communication, Imperial College London, for The changing flora of obesity, published by sciencesays.co.uk, 25-09-2013
Matthew Warren, DPhil Student, University of Oxford, for Synchrotrons, ships and sulphur: Using a particle accelerator to help conserve the Mary Rose, published by bangscience.org, 14-10-2013
 
The best science blog award (new award for 2014)
Joint winners:
Not Exactly Rocket Science (Individual Entry) Ed Yong. Published by National Geographic
&
Cancer Research UK Science Blog (Team Entry) Editorial Team: Henry Scowcroft, Kat Arney, Oliver Childs, Nick Peel. Published by Cancer Research UK
Runner Up:
Head Quarters (Team Entry) Core Bloggers: Chris Chambers, Molly Crockett, Pete Etchells, Thalia Gjersoe. Published by The Guardian
 
The IOP student science publication award supported by IOP Publishing and the Institute of Physics (new award for 2014) NB: This award provides prize money for a winner and a runner up
Winner: Women Rock Science (online publication). Editor, Hadiza Mohammed
Runner Up: theGIST, printed magazine (University of Strathclyde & University of Glasgow). Team Entry: Editors: Timothy Revell, Emilie Steinmark, Alan Boyd 
Shortlisted: Spark Magazine, printed magazine (University of York). Team Entry: Will Ingram (Editor), Matt Ravenhall (Editor), Ellen Rawlins (Photography Editor), Tree Jervis (Web Editor), Jess Wynn (Content Editor)
 
Life Time Achievement Award
Lawrence McGinty, ITV News’ Science & Medical Editor
Lawrence is an award-winning journalist who has long-been viewed as an exemplar for science and health reporting, covering even the most controversial and difficult subjects in an informative, critical, entertaining and knowledgeable manner. The scientific community was saddened to learn he is retiring this year as he has truly had a profound impact, navigating his way through scientific milestones, international disasters, clinical trials, and a flood  of hyperbole, all the while promoting excellence not just in science journalism, but in journalism in general. Excerpt from the statement supporting Lawrence’s nomination.
 
The ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland 2014 attracted nearly 200 entries.  An independent panel of science journalists and science communicators judged the entries based on originality, appeal to a broad audience, novelty of subject matter, likely impact, style, content, entertainment, balance and depth of reporting. 
 
Award winners will receive a certificate and a small cash prize and enter the ABSW hall of fame that includes previous Award winners Sir David Attenborough, Sir John Maddox (Nature), and Judith Hann (BBC Tomorrow’s World).
 
The Awards Ceremony took place at The Royal Society, London after the ABSW’s biennial conference the UK Conference of Science Journalists.
Full details of the rules and regulations for the awards and a full list of judges can be found at http://www.absw.org.uk/jobs-awards/awards
 
ENDS 
For further information contact:
Sallie Robins – ABSW Awards Administrator
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
07733 330344
 
Notes for editors:  
 
Association of British Science Writers (ABSW)
Founded in 1947, the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) exists to help those who write about science, health and technology, and to improve the standard of science journalism in the UK. The ABSW is an association which includes science writers, journalists and broadcasters and that promotes the highest standards of journalism and writing by encouraging investigation and creativity.   www.absw.org.uk @absw https://www.facebook.com/pages/Association-of-British-Science-Writers-ABSW/
Where permitted by the entrant and or publisher, copies of the shortlisted articles/broadcasts are available at www.absw.org.uk 
 
About Janssen
At Janssen Research & Development, we are united and energized by one mission - to discover and develop innovative medicines that ease patient’s suffering, and solve the most important unmet medical needs of our time. 
As one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, our strategy is to identify the biggest unmet medical needs and match them with the best science, internal or external, to find solutions for patients worldwide. We leverage our world-class discovery and development expertise, and operational excellence, to bring innovative, effective treatments in five therapeutic areas: 
• cardiovascular and metabolism 
• immunology 
• infectious diseases and vaccines 
• neuroscience 
• oncology 
We think of the world as our laboratory and we look for innovation wherever it exists. This drives our relentless search for the best science, and our pursuit of collaborations and partnerships. We believe there are no limits to what science can do. And we never lose sight of those who rely most on our discoveries. www.janssenrnd.com   
 
About the Institute of Physics – www.iop.org
The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application. 
 
About IOP Publishing – ioppublishing.org
IOP Publishing is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Institute of Physics. It provides a range of journals, conference proceedings, magazines, websites, books and other services that enable researchers and research organisations to achieve the biggest impact for their work.
 
The Royal Society
The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.
 
The Society’s strategic priorities emphasise its commitment to the highest quality science, to curiosity-driven research, and to the development and use of science for the benefit of society. 
 
These priorities are:
1.       Promoting science and its benefits
2.       Recognising excellence in science
3.       Supporting outstanding science
4.       Providing scientific advice for policy
5.       Fostering international and global cooperation
6.       Education and public engagement
 
For further information please visit http://royalsociety.org Follow the Royal Society on Twitter at http://twitter.com/royalsociety or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/theroyalsociety
 
UK Conference of Science Journalists (UKCSJ14)
A full day of discussion and debate for up to 300 journalists, with three key aims: 
 
To discuss and debate contemporary issues in science journalism
To encourage and provide skills for newcomers
To promote professional development
 
The full programme and registration details can be found at the Conference website www.ukcsj.org
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Press Release issued by AAAS 6 Nov 2014
 
Stories exploring the complexities of human biology, including our interactions with the trillions of microbes we all harbor, the influences of our fishy evolutionary forebears on how we look, and the enduring challenge of understanding cancer, are among the winners of the 2014 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.
 
The awards, administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) since their inception in 1945, go to professional journalists for distinguished reporting for a general audience. The Kavli Foundation provided a generous endowment in 2009 that ensures the future of the awards program.
 
Independent panels of science journalists pick the winners, who will receive $3,000 and a plaque at the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, Calif., in February.
 
Rob Stein, a science correspondent for NPR, won the radio award for reporting on the microbial hitchhikers that live on and in the human body. "In addition to revealing potentially profound new insights into human health," Stein said, research on the human microbiome, as it is called, "raises tantalizing questions about our relationship with the world around us, and even in some ways what it means to be human." The growing field of research also raises some tricky ethical concerns, Stein noted. "Altogether, producing this series proved to be a challenging, fascinating and thrilling journey," he said.
 
Michael Rosenfeld, David Dugan, and Neil Shubin won the in-depth reporting award in the television category for a three-part PBS series on "Your Inner Fish." The winning series described how Shubin, a fish paleontologist, and his colleagues use fossil evidence and our DNA history to trace different features of our anatomy to animals from long ago. Natalie Angier, a science writer for The New York Times, praised the PBS series. "I particularly applaud the segments that reveal what fieldwork is really like," Angier said, "and the graphics really brought the fossils to life."
 
George Johnson, a contributor to The New York Times, won in the large newspaper category for three insightful essays on cancer and some of the misconceptions about the disease. Hillary Rosner, a freelance writer who was one of the judges, said Johnson's pieces "are gorgeously written and offer fascinating perspectives on a topic we like to think we know a lot about."
 
Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science, said a new online entry submission system for the contest resulted in a record 606 entries across all categories, suggesting that "there is a tremendous amount of good work being done in many venues of science journalism at a time when public understanding of science and its impact is more important than ever."
 
The full list of winners of the 2014 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards:
 
PRINT
 
Large Newspaper--Circulation of 100,000 or more
 
George Johnson
 
The New York Times
 
"Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer" 
Jan. 5, 2014
 
"A Tumor, the Embryo's Evil Twin" 
March 18, 2014
 
"An Apple a Day, and Other Myths" 
April 22, 2014
 
George Johnson described how cancer is vying to become the final killer as heart disease and stroke are beaten back; how researchers are finding that the same genes that guide fetal cells as they multiply, migrate and create a newborn child are also among the primary drivers of cancer; and how the connection between the foods we eat and "the cellular anarchy called cancer has been unraveling string by string." As Johnson noted regarding the food-cancer connection, "Trying to tweeze feeble effects from a tangle of variables, many of them unknown, inevitably leads to a tug of war of contradictory reports." Laura Helmuth, science and health editor at Slate, an online magazine, praised Johnson's mastery of "a subject that people have a lot of misconceptions about." Johnson, who previously won the large newspaper award in 1999, said he began immersing himself in the mysteries of cancer while writing his last book and "the subject still has me in its grip." He wrote two of the award-winning pieces for his monthly "Raw Data" column in the Times.
 
Small Newspaper--Circulation less than 100,000
 
Matthew LaPlante and Paul Christiansen
 
Salt Lake City Weekly
 
"Devastated: The World's Largest Organism is in Utah -- and It's Dying" 
Nov. 21, 2013
 
Matthew LaPlante and Paul Christiansen described efforts to understand what is killing the aspen groves of Utah, clones of genetically identical trees that exist as single interconnected organisms with unified root systems that can cover 100 acres or more. A clone dubbed "Pando," first identified in the 1970s as likely the world's largest organism, has an almost complete lack of juvenile and adolescent tree stems, a sign that the ancient organism (perhaps 80,000 years old by some estimates) may be dying. Despite an onslaught of boring insects, bark beetles, canker infections, and other problems, some researchers suspect the underlying cause of Pando's distress may be the long-time suppression of forest fires that promote new growth as well as the hotter, drier winters associated with climate change. Helmuth noted the story's "engaging explanations of clones and the debates over how to determine what is the oldest or largest organism." Kathy Sawyer, a freelancer formerly with The Washington Post, said: "The writing provides easily digestible descriptions of the complex influences in play in the environment and how researchers have teased out insights about the forest, with its unified root system, and why it may be dying." LaPlante commented: "I'd like to think this project is an example of how we can make science alluring -- even romantic -- without exaggerating the scope of the research, confusing our audience or pandering to anyone." Paul Christiansen, who was an undergraduate student at Utah State University at the time the winning piece was written, is now a reporter in northeast Wyoming at the Gillette News Record. "I'm hoping to be able to expand my writing to incorporate more science pieces in the future, much like the story Matthew and I are being recognized for," Christiansen said.
 
Magazine
 
David Dobbs
 
Pacific Standard
 
"The Social Life of Genes" 
September/October 2013
 
David Dobbs explained how a growing body of research with diverse species, from bees and birds to monkeys and humans, suggests that social life can affect gene expression at a scale and breadth not previously suspected. Sawyer called the piece a "fascinating, entertaining trip through studies of gene expression and how scientists came to learn what they know about how genes interact with our social environment." Dobbs also explored some of the more speculative questions raised by the research, including just how quickly a person's gene expression may change in response to social isolation and other environmental factors. The story is rich in detail, including an opening description of how researchers kidnap "foster bees" from switched colonies, vacuuming them up, shooting them into chilled chambers and freezing their gene activity. Peggy Girshman, executive editor of Kaiser Health News, said Dobbs used "clear and creative prose" to lay out "complex issues in ways a layperson could really grasp, not always easy to do." Dobbs said he welcomed the encouragement by the judges as he works on a book which deals with similar themes. "Writing rigorously and engagingly about behavioral science is terrifically challenging," Dobbs said, "and this story in particular took an enormous amount of work."
 
TELEVISION
 
Spot News/Feature Reporting (20 minutes or less)
 
Michael Werner
 
KCTS 9/ QUEST
 
"The Ecology of Fear" 
March 6, 2014
 
Michael Werner explored the return of wolves to the Cascade Mountains in Washington state and the impact they could have on a vast wilderness area where prey species must learn to cope with their new neighbors. He reported on the work of biologist Aaron Wirsing, who uses a simple video camera (a "deer cam") to study predator/prey relationships and provide insights on how we think about wolves. The judges applauded Werner's piece as a good example of enterprising science journalism at the local level. "Discussions around wolves are too often fueled by passion rather than science," Werner said. "The whole topic of wolf management is a lightning rod for controversy. I'm fortunate to work with a strong and supportive team who believed in this story and understood the power of showing what it means to have wolves on our landscapes." Richard Hudson, director of science productions for Twin Cities Public Television, called Werner's entry a "compact, well-paced story" with solid writing and editing. "I like the intense focus on one scientific study," said David Baron, a freelance science writer. "We get a good sense of the question being asked and how scientists intend to answer it. I especially enjoyed the deer cam."
 
In-Depth Reporting (more than 20 minutes)
 
Michael Rosenfeld, David Dugan, Neil Shubin
 
Tangled Bank Studios/Windfall Films for PBS
 
"Your Inner Fish" (series) 
April 9, April 16, and April 23, 2014
 
Neil Shubin, the author of two books on popular science, has spent his career studying the distant reaches of our family tree, looking for evidence of the ancestors that helped shape the human body. Much of how we look today, from our necks and lungs to our limbs and hands, can be traced to our fishy evolutionary forebears, including amphibious creatures that first crawled onto the land more than 300 million years ago. Every reptile, bird and mammal alive today is descended from ancient fish, including us, Shubin notes. Hudson applauded the "fascinating, creative storytelling with illuminating, effective, high-end graphics throughout." He said the smart pacing and use of humor was a plus, "yet the humor never compromises the consistent focus on scientific discovery." Lila Guterman, a deputy managing editor of Science News, said: "I loved it. It had loads of science, including how it's done." Michael Rosenfeld, executive producer of the series, remarked: "Using multiple scientific disciplines, and with Neil himself as our charismatic presenter, we were able to take our viewers on a journey through millions of years to meet a strange cast of characters -- the ancestors that shaped our anatomy." Shubin added: "I'm thrilled to share this special recognition by the AAAS with Michael and David. One of the great joys of doing the show was the way it became a partnership between scientists and filmmakers, each bringing their different vision to telling" the story.
 
RADIO
 
Rob Stein
 
NPR
 
"Staying Healthy May Mean Learning To Love Our Microbiomes" 
July 22, 2013
 
"From Birth, Our Microbes Become As Personal As A Fingerprint" 
Sept. 9, 2013
 
"Getting Your Microbes Analyzed Raises Big Privacy Issues" 
Nov. 4, 2013
 
As part of his continuing reporting on the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that we all harbor, Rob Stein told his listeners about the positive benefits we can derive from our microbiome, the distinctly personal nature of our microbial ecosystems, and the privacy issues that loom now that individuals can readily and inexpensively get their microbes analyzed. One of the pieces included an imaginary bus tour through the microscopic world of the body. Judge Marc Kaufman, a science writer for The Washington Post and other publications, called Stein's stories "a tour de force, as it were...deeply reported, very important and well described. Stein uses his medium extremely well." Naomi Starobin, a project editor at WHYY radio in Philadelphia, said she found Stein's three pieces "totally engaging." Stein used "a lot of creativity and clever use of sound to tell the story," Starobin said. "He fairly presents both the promise and the reality of where the biome research will lead. His trip through the human body feels like the Magic School Bus for adults."
 
ONLINE
 
Amy Dockser Marcus
 
The Wall Street Journal
 
"Trials: A Desperate Fight to Save Kids and Change Science" 
Nov. 14, 2013
 
In "Trials," a sweeping, multimedia project, reporter Amy Dockser Marcus followed a group of families and scientists trying to accelerate the development of a drug to treat Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a rare and fatal disorder of cholesterol metabolism that strikes primarily children. Those with the disease, which gradually steals mobility, speech, and the ability to swallow, seldom live beyond their teen years. The families and scientists, whom Dockser Marcus followed for six years, were part of a fledgling movement to change medical science in the United States and gain a larger role for caretakers and patients in shaping research protocols. In a gripping narrative, Dockser Marcus described the lives of the children and their parents as the new model of citizen involvement in scientific research emerged. She grappled with difficult questions on how to accommodate the understandable drive of parents to save their children without compromising the safety and efficacy of clinical drug research. "Telling stories helps create community," Dockser Marcus said. "We need to hear the stories of both patients and scientists. I hope that the Trials series shows that collaboration is essential to accelerating the discovery of new therapies." Pete Spotts, a science writer for The Christian Science Monitor, said the winning entry was "a fascinating story with strong reporting and writing." He added, "The writer's approach respects the different 'cultures' involved in what could have become either a vilification of meddling parents or of scientists more concerned about the fastidiousness of their trials than about the patients involved." Mary Knudson, a freelance science writer and editor, said: "The story is compelling, of major importance, rich with details, and highly readable."
 
CHILDREN'S SCIENCE NEWS
 
Mara Grunbaum
 
Scholastic Science World
 
"Biting Back" 
Sept. 16, 2013
 
"Underwater Adventurer" 
Oct. 7, 2013
 
"Swallowed Up" 
Feb. 3, 2014
 
In engaging stories about venomous animals, sinkholes, and a do-it-yourself submarine, Mara Grunbaum offered her young readers a look at how scientists and engineers seek to understand and interact with the natural world. She explained how erosion can carve out cavities in certain types of bedrock resulting eventually in a dramatic collapse called a sinkhole. But Grunbaum also sought to reassure her readers that the odds of being swallowed up in a sinkhole are very, very small. Her story on snakes and other venomous animals explained what makes snake venom harmful, how to counteract it, and how researchers are using ingredients of venom to treat disease. Her piece on 18-year-old Justin Beckerman described how he built a working submarine out of a piece of plastic drainage pipe. She explained forces, such as buoyancy and fluid pressure, that Beckerman had to understand before he could make a successful sub. The piece on Beckerman "skillfully draws you into a simply cool story while telling you important tenets of science," said judge Christine Dell'Amore of National Geographic News. Tina Hesman Saey of Science News said Grunbaum's piece on the submarine "seamlessly incorporates the failures inherent" in science and engineering discovery and "teaches concepts without ever bogging down the story." Grunbaum called the award a "huge honor," adding, "I love writing about science for kids -- and I learn a lot in the process."
 
###
 
The Kavli Foundation
 
The Kavli Foundation is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research, and supporting scientists and their work. The Foundation's mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics, and through the support of conferences, symposia, endowed professorships, and other activities, including the Kavli Science Journalism Workshops at the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT. The Foundation is also a founding partner of the biennial Kavli Prizes, which recognize scientists for their seminal advances in three research areas: astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.
 
American Association for the Advancement of Science
 
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.
 

Association of British Science Writers - Shortlist Announced for 2014 Journalism Awards

The judging panel has met and decided the shortlists for the Association of British Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland 2014.

Connie St Louis, Chair of the Judging Panel and Programme Director, MA Science Journalism, City University, London, said: "Since receiving support from Janssen Research and Development to re-establish our Awards in 2010, they have gone from strength to strength. The number of categories for entry has doubled from five to ten over the past five years, with new awards this year for blogging and student science publications. Next year we will be introducing a category of European Science Journalist of the Year to further expand our celebration of great science journalism to the rest of Europe."

The winners will be announced at the ABSW Science Writers' Awards Ceremony on 18th June in London, following the ABSW’s biennial UK Conference of Science Journalists.

Best feature 

Stuart Clark, Freelance for Ear on the Universe, published by New Scientist, 21-09-2013

Jessa Gamble, Researcher at Arup for The End of Sleep? published by Aeon Magazine (online), 10-04-2013

Michael Le Page, Biology and environment editor at New Scientist for The lowdown on the slowdown published by New Scientist, 07-12-2013

Best news item

Ewen Callaway, Senior Reporter, Nature, for Deal done over HeLa cell line published by Nature 07-08-2013

Robin McKie, Science and Technology Editor, The Observer, for Gene Wars: the last ditch battle over who owns the rights to our DNA published by The Observer, 21-04-2013

Ian Sample, Science Correspondent, The Guardian, for US scientists boycott Nasa conference over China ban published by The Guardian, 05-10-2013

The best scripted/edited television programme or online video

Team Entry: Paul Olding (Writer/Producer/Director), Freelance and Michael Scott (Presenter/Writer), Historian, for The Mystery of Rome’s X Tombs broadcast BBC Two, 29-07-2013

Team Entry: Will Goodbody, Science and Technology Correspondent, RTÉ and Paul Deighan, RTÉ news cameraman, for Irish scientists at CERN’s cutting edge broadcast on Nationwide on RTÉ1, 18-10-2013

Team Entry: Jacqueline Smith (Executive Producer, BBC Television and Series Producer), Nathan Budd (Producer), James Logan (Presenter), for Insect Dissection: How Insects Work broadcast BBC Four, 20-03-2013. The programme was a co-production between BBC Four and Discovery Science.

The Royal Society Radio Prize

(NB: A prize for the best scripted/edited radio programme or podcast, supported by The Royal Society):

Team Entry: Alex Bellos (Writer/Research) and Andrew Luck-Baker (BBC Radio Producer) for Nirvana by Numbers broadcast BBC Radio 4, 07-10-2013

Team Entry: Anne McNaught (BBC Radio Scotland Producer) and Euan McIlwraith (Presenter) for Scotland’s Wildlife: Supporting Native Species, broadcast BBC Schools Radio, Scotland, 26-09-2013

Team Entry: Kerri Smith (Audio Editor/Journalist, Nature) and Charlotte Stoddart (Audio Editor/Journalist, Nature), for Nature PastCast: May 1985, published by Nature Podcasts, 17-05-2013

Best investigative journalism

Alison Abbott, Senior European Correspondent at Nature for Italian Stem-Cell Trial based on flawed data published Nature News website, 02-07-2013

Steve Connor, Science Editor at the Independent for Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science published by the Independent, 25-01-2013

Team Entry: Mike Power (Writer), Bobbie Johnson (Editor), Kristen French (Fact checker), Tim Heffernan (Copy editor) for Uncontrolled Substances published by MATTER, 25-10-2013

The NUJ Stephen White Award for best communication and reporting of science in a non-science context

This Award is made in memory of Stephen White a highly influential science communicator who sadly died in 2010.   The Award is possible due to a donation from Stephen’s widow Elizabeth.

Team Entry: Michelle Martin (BBC Science Radio Producer), Tracey Logan (Presenter) for Technicolour broadcast BBC Radio 4, 30-01-2013

Team Entry: Will Goodbody, Science and Technology Correspondent, RTÉ and Paul Deighan, RTÉ news cameraman, for Irish scientists at CERN’s cutting edge broadcast Nationwide on RTÉ1, 18-10-2013

Christopher White, freelance, for The complete guide to DNA for family historians published by Your Family Tree Magazine, 27-03-2013

Best newcomer

Melissa Hogenboom, Assistant Producer/Science reporter BBC. Read Melissa's articles here:

Joanne O’Dea, Formerly of ScienceBusiness currently Freelance

Jennifer Whyntie, Assistant Producer, BBC.  Listen to programmes in which Jennifer had a role from researcher to producer:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016btdk 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rvpq1  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01d5p5r 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01kmy67

The Good Thinking student science blog

supported by Good Thinking (new award for 2014)

Sarah Hearne, PhD student, Department of Zoology, Trinity College Dublin, for Sea Serpents off the Port Bow! Published by ecoevoblog.com, 01-11-2013

Lauren Hoskin, MSc Science Communication, Imperial College London, for The changing flora of obesity, published by sciencesays.co.uk, 25-09-2013

Matthew Warren, DPhil Student, University of Oxford, for Synchrotrons, ships and sulphur: Using a particle accelerator to help conserve the Mary Rose, published by bangscience.org, 14-10-2013

Best science blog

(new award for 2014)

Not Exactly Rocket Science (Individual Entry) Ed Yong. Published by National Geographic

Cancer Research UK Science Blog (Team Entry) Editorial Team: Henry Scowcroft, Kat Arney, Oliver Childs, Nick Peel. Published by Cancer Research UK

Head Quarters (Team Entry) Core Bloggers: Chris Chambers, Molly Crockett, Pete Etchells, Thalia Gjersoe. Published by The Guardian

The IOP student science publication award supported by IOP Publishing and the Institute of Physics (new award for 2014):

theGIST, printed magazine (University of Strathclyde & University of Glasgow). Editors: Timothy Revell, Emilie Steinmark, Alan Boyd 

Spark Magazine, printed magazine (University of York). Team Entry: Will Ingram (Editor), Matt Ravenhall (Editor), Ellen Rawlins (Photography Editor), Tree Jervis (Web Editor), Jess Wynn (Content Editor)

Women Rock Science (online publication). Editor, Hadiza Mohammed

Life Time Achievement Award

There is no short list for the Award as ABSW members nominate and the ABSW Board decides upon the winner. The winner will be announced at the Awards Ceremony.

The ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland 2014 attracted nearly 200 entries.  An independent panel of science journalists and science communicators judged the entries based on originality, appeal to a broad audience, novelty of subject matter, likely impact, style, content, entertainment, balance and depth of reporting.

Award winners will receive a certificate and a small cash prize and enter the ABSW hall of fame that includes previous award winners Sir David Attenborough, Sir John Maddox (Nature) and Judith Hann (BBC Tomorrow’s World).

Full details of the rules and regulations for the awards and a full list of judges can be found at http://www.absw.org.uk/jobs-awards/awards

Notes:

About the Institute of Physics – www.iop.org

The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

About IOP Publishing – ioppublishing.org

IOP Publishing is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Institute of Physics. It provides a range of journals, conference proceedings, magazines, websites, books and other services that enable researchers and research organisations to achieve the biggest impact for their work.

The Royal Society

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

The Society’s strategic priorities emphasise its commitment to the highest quality science, to curiosity-driven research, and to the development and use of science for the benefit of society.

These priorities are:

  • Promoting science and its benefits
  • Recognising excellence in science
  • Supporting outstanding science
  • Providing scientific advice for policy
  • Fostering international and global cooperation
  • Education and public engagement

For further information visit http://royalsociety.org
Follow the Royal Society on Twitter at http://twitter.com/royalsociety or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/theroyalsociety

UK Conference of Science Journalists (UKCSJ14)

A full day of discussion and debate for up to 300 journalists, with three key aims:

  • To discuss and debate contemporary issues in science journalism
  • To encourage and provide skills for newcomers
  • To promote professional development

The full programme and registration details can be found at the Conference website www.ukcsj.org

ABSW Calendar

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EurekAlert!

EurekAlert

EurekAlert! is the ABSW's professional development partner and supports all ABSW professional development and training events.