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I recently returned from the Falling Walls conference and press trip for Berlin Science Week, made possible through the ABSW and EUSJA. Both the conference itself and the gathering of journalists from all over Europe - and indeed, the world - were well worth my time and, simply, a great reminder of why I love to write about science. 

The trip consisted of a press day on the Wednesday, followed by two days of the Falling Walls conference - in its 10th year, a global multidisciplinary gathering of high level scientists and up and coming innovators. 

For the press day, there were 10 EUSJA journalists (the delegation I was a member of) and 10 Falling Walls Journalism Fellows (journalists from all over the world, who had applied for a similar scheme, directly through the conference). This meant that there were 19 fellow science writers, from Brazil and India, to the US and Russia, to swap stories with and generally get to to know while we toured some of Berlin's science and technology institutes - including the Natural History Museum.

Increasingly, the public is getting its science news and perspective directly from the source: scientists and engineers.

This Kavli Symposium explored the benefits—and challenges—of scientists and engineers bypassing traditional media outlets to tell their stories, thus becoming unfiltered sources of news and perspective. In particular, it focused on how the values of journalism—values that build trust between the media and the public—can be more fully shared with the growing body of scientist-communicators who are reaching their audiences directly, often through blogs and social media.

ABSW chairman, Mico Tatalovic, was invited to participate in the symposium. Here’s the final report.

The ABSW has updated its mission and vision, following a strategic review and a large survey of its members. This update aims to clarify who we are for and what we stand for and do. It follows an extensive consultation with members over the past year. 

Our updated mission and vision can now be found in our 'About' section accessible to all from our main menu.  This section also includes a copy of our Memorandum, Articles and Standing Orders, and details of our democratic and decision making processes.

When Steve Connor passed away, tributes to his journalism came flooding in and rightly so. He was, in my view, the greatest science journalist of his generation. I am therefore so pleased that ABSW Board has chosen to honour Steve by naming its award for investigative journalism after him.

The investigation award is one of the most prestigious prizes in science journalism. It is there to reward those that don’t take the information they are given at face value, that can ‘smell’ a story, that can chase it down, stand it up and, crucially, set right wrongdoing.

So many nice things were said by Steve by those who were fortunate enough to work with him. But one I thought was particularly insightful was by his former editor at the i newspaper, Ollie Duff.

At the UKCSJ18 on Tuesday (16 October), the ABSW and EurekAlert! announced a new five year partnership.

EurekAlert! the online, global news service operated by American Association for the Advancement of Science, is to be the ABSW's 'lead professional development partner' for five years starting from January 2019.  This support will help fund some of the ABSW's professional development events such as the high profile UK Conference of Science Journalists and Science Journalism Summer School.

On the partnership Mico Tatalovic, Chair of the ABSW said: "this is a helpful partnership that will allow the ABSW to plan for its professional development events on a sound financial footing".   Brian Lin, Director, Editorial Content Strategy, EurekAlert! said: "EurekAlert! is delighted to support the ABSW in delivering high-quality and thought-provoking professional development training for science journalists".

Find out more about EurekAlert!

 

Over the past decade, the ABSW has given out more than two dozen awards to students and newcomers, including runners-up and shortlisted entries.

Where are those award winners now and what are they working on?

Either the awards jury is great at picking out promising professionals, or the award itself plays a role in boosting their high-flying careers, as the following list is quite impressive.

Most work in science and tech journalism, some are research scientists, and others are policy managers or strategy advisers at medical institutions.

Here’s a selection – in alphabetical order – of winners and runners-up in the ABSW awards for students and newcomers since 2009, with brackets to indicate what they were doing when they won their ABSW award, and where they are now:

 

Left to Right: Yves Sciama, organizer ECSJ2018; Seema Kumar, J&J Innovation; Nathaniel Herzberg, finalist; Eva Wolfangel, winner; Martin Enserink, finalist; Vera Novai, Lea Udovč and
Julianna Photopoulos, nominees - European Science Writer of the Year 2018

Eva Wolfangel, a freelance science journalist from Germany was announced as European Science Writer of the Year 2018 at an evening reception at the European Conference of Science Journalists 2018 on Sunday (8 July 2018).

The ABSW Science Writers' Awards for Britain and Ireland, the "Oscars" of science writing, have been running for over half a century ­– and only a handful of people have won on more than three occasions.

Overall, there have been some 372 winners since our records started in 1966. That’s an average of around 7 award winners a year.

The vast majority of the winners, 251 of them, only won once; 32 people won twice.

Nine people won 3 times; three people won 4 times; and two people won 5 times.

But only one person – the late Steve Connor of The Independent – won a grand total of 7 awards, the record number of ABSW awards netted by anyone.

Steve Connor won in 1985, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2012, 2016 and 2018 in categories including news, features, and investigation, as well as the UK science writer of the year and lifetime achievement awards. The ABSW committee has named our investigative award to honour his work.

The next top winners were Ian Sample and Tim Radford, both of The Guardian, who each won five awards.

Geoff Watts, broadcaster and journalist, and Andrew Luck-Baker, producer and presenter – both of whom worked for BBC Radio 4 – have each won four times, as did Roger Highfield, mostly for his work at The Daily Telegraph.

And the nine people who won three times each are: Frank Close, Deborah Cohen, Louise Dalziel, Oliver Gillie, John Gribbin, Robin McKie, Martin Redfern, Colin Tudge, and Ed Yong.

The list of top winners is dominated by men, with only two women featuring in the top 15 winners with three awards each – Deborah Cohen and Louise Dalziel, both broadcast journalists at the BBC. This gender skew could be partly because journalism was long dominated by men, and perhaps in part becuase of a possible bias in application rates. Hopefully, we are making those reasons a thing of the past and we’ll see more women winners in years to come. In fact, last year we had ten women winners out of a total of 19; and in 2017 we had eight women winners out of 15.

The 2019 awards are now open for entry in 16 categories. The deadline is 31 January.

(These numbers are preliminary and come from our publicly-available records of award winners. They don’t include runners-up or special mentions.)

For writers keen to get a feature published in New Scientist, the ABSW evening with Josh Howgego, one of the publication’s features editors, was a great place to start.

The evening, held in a London pub, on Monday 4 June, was free to members. Josh provided all sorts of glimpses into how those features editors’ minds work – the mantras they follow; the essentials they are looking for in a pitch; how they view the New Scientist reader. He also talked the group through the writing of a feature, from coverlines to endings. And he ran through a list of feature types – all useful for working out where your fantastic idea might slot into the magazine.

After a round of drinks there was plenty of time for questions and bouncing ideas around. Thanks, Josh, for taking the time.

Read the event details

Thanks to Aisling Irwin, Secretary of the ABSW Board, for representing the ABSW Board on the night and for providing this review and picture.

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.