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.’
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.
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.
All the best
Martin Ince, President, ABSW
Nominations for the Executive Board 2014
A new online platform that changes the way in-depth articles are produced has recently been launched called Contributoria.com. Here, its editor Sarah Hartley explains how science writers could benefit from the new development which is being backed by the Guardian Media Group.
Already dubbed the love child of Medium and Kickstarter, the new platform Contributoria.com is looking to change the way long form pieces of journalism are produced by using the particular qualities digital technologies have allowed for.
Put simply it allows members of the site to back pieces of work that have been proposed via the online site - in effect taking the role of commissioning editors out to the crowd, putting decision making into the hands of a community of people who care about the topics.
In a recent interview with Gigaom [http://gigaom.com/2014/01/08/contributorias-founders-talk-about-why-they-are-building-an-open-community-for-crowdfunding-journalism/ ], co-founder Matt McAlister explained how the initiative had evolved.
“We’re trying to put some transparency around the journalism process — the core premise being around collaboration with your peers, with other writers — and the mechanisms and the processes that journalists operate by. We wanted to create a platform that just sort of opened that up, so any number of people in the community could participate in it openly.”
The team behind the platform has a varied experience in digital publishing going back over many years. I’m an active multimedia journalist and blogger and previously worked for more than a decade at the Guardian Media Group in a variety of senior editorial posts. There’s also:
Matt McAlister who develops new businesses at Guardian Media Group. He has been involved in various aspects of the digital publishing ecosystem since 1994 - leading digital arms of print businesses, building platform services at large media companies and creating new digital businesses.
Developer Dan Catt, helped to build Flickr in the early years of Web2.0 and later returned from San Francisco to work at the Guardian to take a sideways look at the data behind the news. He now splits his time between working with data, studying the news and trying to get back to his struggling artist roots.
Together we work with a team of freelance designers and developers and will be continuing to evolve and enhance the platform over the coming months in response to the feedback we get from our members.
The Contributoria.com platform works in a three step process, over three months, to allow for in-depth research and interviews to be carried out by the writers:
- Step one is that writers propose story ideas in month one, and all members assess them and decide if they wish to back stories collectively using points allocated to them from their membership fees (NB: At the moment membership is free thanks to support from Guardian Media Group. At some point in the future, members will pay a membership fee which becomes the collective pot for writers' commissions, a bit like a cooperative).
- Step two. A month during which collaborative editing tools help writers work together with their peers to improve the quality of their output. Contributoria enables live co-editing with other interested community members.
- Step three. Lastly, final versions of articles produced by the community are published on the Contributoria web site in month three where they will remain free to the public and available for re-use with a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC). Writers whose works get published are paid using the community’s membership funding pool. Commissioning options are also available to media organisations to supplement the community’s crowdfunding activities with additional payments being made to authors.
Journalists and specialist writers are sometimes wary of working through their ideas in public but the Contributoria.com platform is built in such a way that allows for collaboration with other members who have invested in the production of the article.
There are currently 24 articles being funded (at a cost of more than £7.5k) and worked on by the writers and members which will be published online in an issue, a bit like a magazine, in March. (You can get an idea of the activity here [http://www.contributoria.com/issue/next_issue but the drafts are currently only viewable to members involved in the production.)
Included in the next issue are articles about solar power, biofuels and a look at transcending the Anthropocene in science.
The authors getting involved to date have mostly been professional journalists and published authors and, while the topics proposed by writers will no doubt be as diverse and varied as the writers themselves as the platform matures, it already seems that the long-form nature of the medium does lend itself to specialist areas such as science.
So will you join us? We’re giving our members the tools to support the journalism they really want to read, a way to reward the producers of content who are creating what they want to see out there in the world.
- Detailed budget for the full investigation
- Two examples of published/broadcast investigative work
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.
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
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:
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
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
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
Join ABSW members at the traditional 'we missed the deadline' late Xmas Party.
Date: Wednesday 22 January 2014
Time: 19:00 onwards