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President's Update October 2014

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



ABSW Event: In conversation with Professor Sir Mark Walport

Latest news:   Bookings now open

The Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) and Science Museum Lates present:

In conversation with Professor Sir Mark Walport 

19.00- 20.00, Wednesday 29 October, Science Museum (FREE) 
In his first 18 months as government chief scientific advisor, Professor Sir Mark Walport has faced his share of controversial science topics. Channel 4 science editor Tom Clarke asks him to reflect on his time on the job so far and asks where he sees science advice going as the government tries to recover from the recession.
From badger culling to the potential take-over of Astra Zeneca, Sir Mark has advised the government on numerous scientific issues. He will discuss the highlights and the challenges of his job to date, look at what he could have done differently and where there are improvements to be made.
In a brief lecture and conversation with Tom Clarke, Sir Mark will tackle the big questions of science policy and research funding in a post-recession government.
He will consider how science advice can help keep politicians’ decisions in the public eye, rather than in the dark corridors of Whitehall, how and when to use evidence-based policymaking and whether the voices of scientific advisors are heard across government.
This will be follows by a Q&A session from the audience, where you will get the chance to put your own burning questions to Sir Mark.
The event will be introduced and chaired by journalist and broadcaster Roger Highfield, who is Director of External Affairs at the National Museum of Science and Industry.
Run by the ABSW and Science Museum Lates, it's a great chance to come along and ask Mark Walport, the government's chief scientific advisor some burning questions, and you can spend the rest of the evening enjoying the other events on offer
Bookings now open


Nigel Calder Memorial Meeting

Advance notice regarding a memorial meeting for long standing ABSW member, Nigel Calder
Nigel Calder 1931-2014
Memorial meeting
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
London W1J OBQ
Tuesday 2 December 2014 at 4pm
Followed by an informal reception 5-6pm 
This is to let you know that we are arranging an hour-long programme of talks celebrating the life and work of the science writer Nigel Calder.  Speakers are to be confirmed but will include his co-writer and friend Professor Henrik Svensmark.   This event will take place on 2 December, which would have been Nigel’s 83rd birthday. 
Further details, including how to reserve a seat, will be published on Nigel's blog,, on 11 November.  In the interim, any enquiries may be made by phone to 07771 620433.

Beyond facebook, Twitter, print & TV: communicating environmental messages in the new reality

Beyond facebook, Twitter, print & TV: communicating environmental messages in the new reality

Ever heard of Pheed,, Medium, Chirp, Sulia or Learnist? These are just six of the new information networks whose emergence tests whether our well-formed, well-rehearsed environmental messages and communication tools are still working in a time of fast and massive change.

Communicate 2014 in Bristol this November 4th and 5th will meet this question head on in what is superb forum for environmental communicators to learn, share best practice and debate the latest challenges to engaging people with the natural world. This year, Communicate is themed around ‘Changing Stories’, the idea of ensuring our efforts to communicate environmental narratives are hitting the right sweet spots, the best networks, the biggest audiences. With new and powerful social media platforms emerging all the time, how do we change the stories we tell about people and nature in a way that reflects our achievements but still acknowledges the huge and growing threats to our planet home.

Communicate is the UK's leading conference for environmental communicators, bringing together more than 150 delegates for inspirational presentations, practical workshops, searching discussions and outstanding networking opportunities.

The Communicate 2014 conference speaker line-up includes Conference Chair Ed Gillespie from Futerra, Ben Summerskill, Maddy Carroll – 38 Degrees, Tim Scoones and Ruth Peacy - BBC Natural History Unit, Kathryn Cook - National Parks UK, Andy Gouldson – Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, Dan Burgess - Swarm and Project Wildthing and Lisa Sargood - Horton Wolfe.

Delegates can join Communicate 2014 for either or both days and there is a gala dinner for all.

Registration is now open at £150 + VAT for a single day, £250 + VAT for both.

Closing Date: Monday 3 November 2014

Robin Hague, Bristol Natural History Consortium This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Communicate 2014: Changing Stories

EVENT: Communicate 2014: Changing Stories
4 and 5 November, At-Bristol Science Centre, Bristol
Register now at:
Two day delegate pass: £250+ VAT; one day delegate pass: £150+VAT
We are living through a time of immense and accelerated change: environmental, technological and social. Are our well-rehearsed environmental messages and our tried and trusted communications tools still relevant in today’s rapidly evolving world? Communicate 2014: Changing Stories will address this question. 
Join us for two days of inspirational sessions, thought-provoking discussions, practical workshops and outstanding networking opportunities at the UK’s leading conference for environmental communicators. Develop your skills, share best practice and debate the latest challenges with over 150 delegates from NGOs, public sector, media, academia and beyond.
Confirmed speakers include conference host Ed Gillespie (Futerra), Tim Scoones (BBC Natural History Unit), Kathryn Cook (National Parks UK), Dan Burgess (Swarm/Project Wild Thing) and Steve Micklewright (Birdlife Malta).
See the latest programme at, follow @communicate2014 or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

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