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By ABSW Board member Andy Extance

Last month the excellent Open Notebook carried an interview with Hakai magazine news editor Colin Schulz, where he made a remark that caught my attention as a freelance science writer:

"When I was a writer I—like many writers—was terrified of pitching. But now that I’m an editor, I get to see the other side of it. And it’s not what I expected. I’m friends with a bunch of editors, and there’s a gripe that many of us share: We don’t get enough pitches. I don’t just mean excellent, stellar, award-winning pitches. I mean pitches."

I've seen other editors complain about this too, notably Oli Franklin-Wallis, features editor at Wired UK on Twitter. I therefore asked members of the ABSW what their experience was.

Finalists announced ABSW Science Writers Awards for Great Britain and Ireland

The finalists in the 2017 Association of British Science Writers’ (ABSW) Awards for Great Britain and Ireland have been decided.  The ABSW is also pleased to announce the country nominees in this year’s European Science Writer of the Year Award.

Two hundred and twenty-eight entries were considered by the independent panel of science journalists and science communicators who 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.  

The Scholarships are now closed to entry - we hope to inform individuals of their success or otherwise at early on in the week beginning Mon 26 June

The Association of British Science Writers is pleased to offer a limited number of free student places to the ABSW Science Journalism Summer School on Wednesday 5 July 2017 at The Wellcome Trust, London. To apply you must currently be in full time education within the UK. 

Closing date for entries is noon on Friday 23 June 2017

The scholarship covers your registration fee and pre-agreed travel and accommodation costs only. If you are eligible, you will also receive one year's student membership of the Association of British Science Writers.

If you have already registered and paid for the Summer School and/or already paid for student membership of the ABSW you may still apply for the scholarship and this sum will be refunded to you if you receive a scholarship.

If you are not successful but still wish to attend the Summer School a place will automatically have been held for you so you do not lose out on a place at the Summer School by applying for the scholarship.

Apply for a student scholarship

The scholarships are possible due to support from Taylor & Francis Group.

At the ABSW AGM held last night (Thursday 30 March) Pallab Ghosh, Science Correspondent at the BBC and a former Chair of the ABSW was appointed Honorary President.

On his appointment Pallab said: "The ABSW is a force for good and I look forward to helping the Chair and the Executive Board in any way I can to promote our values of clear, critical and challenging science journalism. In a world where so much well-funded science propaganda is produced by so many vested interests to suit their own agendas, our profession is needed now more than ever. It is needed to help people make informed choices about their lives and to show them how science shapes the world around them and how they might influence that change."

The AGM saw Martin Ince departing as former President of the ABSW's Executive Board and Mico Tatalovic of New Scientist being elected. Martin will remain on the Board for a further year in the postition of Treasurer so will still be very much involved in the organisation.

Meet your new Executive Board

Other news from the AGM:

The standing orders were amended to change the title of President of the ABSW to its former title of Chair of the ABSW, amendments were also made so that Life Members can stand for election.   

Martin Ince was awarded Life Membership of the ABSW for all he has done during his time as President.

Pete Wrobel and Michael Kenward were appointed for a further year as Honorary Auditors.

The minutes will be posted in due course but will of course require approval at next year's AGM.

 

 

 

 

 

Report by ABSW board member Andy Extance

Following a letter signed by the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) and other organisations, the UK government has clarified that ‘purdah’ rules should not restrict commentary from university academics.

The clarification follows a notice from Research Councils UK that it must ‘avoid competition with parliamentary candidates for the attention of the public’ in the run-up to the country’s election on June 8. The same notice also advises scientists not to highlight their research council funding and to delay publishing press releases about research-council funded work until after the election.

Science journalists have found that these and other instructions have had an unduly chilling effect. The letter, written by the Science Media Centre, highlights several examples where scientists had inappropriately declined to talk to the media. Those examples include subjects such as a new study on climate change, the current UK drought, and the government’s draft air quality plan.

Introducing your proposed Executive Board

All posts on the Executive Board are elected annually at the AGM. Nominations opened on 1 February 2017 and closed on 1 March 2017.  The following individuals stood for election and as there are no contested posts, their nominations will be taken to the AGM for ratification.

Winners announced ABSW Science Writers' Awards for Great Britain and Ireland

The winners of the 2017 Association of British Science Writers’ (ABSW) Awards for Great Britain and Ireland were announced at an Awards Ceremony tonight (Thursday 25 May) in London.  

Two hundred and twenty-eight entries were considered by the independent panel of science journalists and science communicators who 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.  

The evening was hosted by Pallab Ghosh, Honorary President of the ABSW, and Science Correspondent at the BBC.   Aoife Pauley, Head of Corporate Media, EMEA, presented the Awards on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the Award sponsors.

The opportunity of a spare place on the EUSJA trip to Berlin for Science Week and the Falling Walls conference came up with less than 24 hours' notice, which is why I was sent to take advantage.

The trip included around 20 journalists from across Europe: I spotted people from Spain, Finland, Russia, and Estonia on the first day, when we were given a tour of three of Berlin's scientific establishments.

Hester van Santen, a science journalist for NRC media in the Netherlands has won this year's European Science Writer of the Year Award.

Hester was chosen from the fifteen nominees from throughout Europe and will attend the ABSW Awards Ceremony in London next week (Thu 25 May) to collect her certificate and cash prize.

On announcing the award the judging panel said: 

"In her submission, Hester has demonstrated her ability to be at ease with both popular science formats and more investigative type pieces. Her work is remarkably well researched regardless of the format or audience targeted and is full of creativity with a great range of interviews. Hester's best submission is undoubtedly the article about peer review, which represents a great case study of a big problem affecting science." 

Candidate's were assessed on three pieces of work and all were nominated by organisations representing science journalists and writers from throughout Europe. Hester was nominated by VWN the Dutch association for science journalism and communication.

ABSW Calendar

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