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ABSW AGM 2014 - Agenda

Date and time: Thu 27 March 2014 19:00 onwards
Venue: The Science Museum's Dana Centre, 165 Queen's Gate, South Kensington, London, SW7 5HD
Invited: All ABSW members 
NB: Only full and life members and the Honorary President may vote. Quorum for the meeting is 10 voting members
1 Apologies for Absence
3 Matters Arising
4 President’s Report
Connie St Louis/Martin Ince
Harriet Bailey
6 Auditors' Report
Pete Wrobel/Michael Kenward
7 Election of Executive Board
Martin Ince
All posts on the Executive Board are elected annually at the AGM. This is the first year in which the Board has run its election process on line. In accordance with the Standing Orders nominations opened on 27 January 2014 and closed on 17 February 2014.  The following individuals stood for election:
Martin Ince – President
Connie St Louis – European Representative
Harriet Bailey – Treasurer
Beki Hill/Mico Tatalovic/Wendy Grossman/Katherine Sanderson – general post on the Board (7 maximum available)
There are therefore no contested posts and no candidates for Vice President or Secretary.  There is no specific guidance in the Standing Orders on procedure where posts are not contested or no nominations received.   The Executive Board agreed the following procedure and this was approved by the appointed election tellers (Andy Coughlan/John Bonner)
Action Taken/Required:
Details of the nominations were placed on the ABSW website earlier this month and the AGM is now asked to ratify these individuals to comprise the new Executive Board.  At the first meeting of the new Executive Board after this AGM the Board will consider co-opting individuals to cover vacant posts 
The ABSW would like to express its thanks to those who have now left the Executive Board: Julia Durbin (Secretary), Jeremy Webb (Vice President), Mun Keat Looi, Helen Pearson, Matt Ravenhall.   The ABSW would also like to thank the appointed tellers who oversaw the election John Bonner and Andy Coghlan.
8 Appointment of Auditors 
Martin Ince
The AGM are asked to approve the appointment of the auditors for the financial year 2014. 
(NB: Auditors for 2013 were Pete Wrobel and Sunny Bains.   Sunny Bains resigned in March 2014 and Michael Kenward agreed to act as auditor)    
9 Appointment of Honorary President
Martin Ince
The AGM are asked to approve the re-appointment of Professor Colin Blakemore as Honorary President of the ABSW for a further term of three years.
10 Appointment of Life Members 
Martin Ince
The AGM are asked to approve the following individuals for Life Membership:
Connie St Louis (Former Treasurer & President) 
Natasha Loder (Former President)
Peter Cooper (Secretary from 1980 to 1984; Auditor from 1989 to 2013)
Peter Briggs (Secretary, Treasurer and Auditor over a period of 25 years from 1986 until 2011)
11 Any Other Business
12 Date of Next AGM - March 2015

ABSW Panel Debate on Investigative Journalism - live blog

Video to follow...


Here's some of the follow-up we've found on Twitter at #abswij

and indeed it seems that the follow up was well deserved...

And do we now have a new member?

A point raised by Josh Howgego that is echoed in many places... the curse of the unpaid internship...

Here's a point well made...

And this is a very interesting point (something to follow up on?)

And of course, Rory's bagels... is this investigative tech/sci journalism?

Finally of course some big announcements about science-based investigative journalism...

Have you got other thoughts on this event? Let us know here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ABSW Executive Board Elections: Candidates 2014

Nominations for the Executive Board 2014

The following nominations have been received (by clicking on each individual you will be taken to their supporting statements and details of their nominators):
Martin Ince – President
Connie St Louis – European Representative
Harriet Bailey – Treasurer
Board Member (up to seven posts available):
None of the above posts are therefore contested and there are no candidates for the posts of Vice President or Secretary.  There is no specific guidance in the ABSW Standing Orders regarding procedure where posts are not contested nor nominations received, however the current Executive Board and the appointed Election Tellers, have agreed that the nominations should be presented to the AGM to be ratified.   They have then agreed that at the first meeting of the new Executive Board, after the AGM, the Board will consider how best to fill the vacant posts of Vice President and Secretary, either from the existing Board members or by co-opting Board members.
Details of the election proceedure 2014 are here.
For queries regarding the elections or the AGM please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Martin Ince

Nominators: Connie St Louis/Harriet Bailey
I have been a member of the ABSW most of my life, and a member of its board or executive since 2001. In terms of posts held, I was treasurer for seven years and became president when Connie St Louis stepped down in January this year. I am grateful to Connie for the great shape in which the ABSW finds itself, and for her current support for my candidacy. As your treasurer, I was finance director of the World Conference of Science Journalists in London in 2009. The surplus from this event has transformed the financial position of the ABSW, and has allowed us to launch activities such as the UK Conference of Science Journalists. I am a member of the World Federation’s finance and development committee. The profession of science writing is of growing importance in the UK and around the world. My aim as president would be to encourage new ways of enhancing our skills, and the esteem in which our members are held. Who knows? The result might even be better-paid science writers. My work is international and I am especially keen to encourage our two-way learning with colleagues in the developing world. But there are also steps we can take to make things easier for science writers in the UK, such as adding to the roster of publishers whose journals our members can access in advance, and by growing the number and scope of our professional development events. I would aim as president to be responsive to the needs of our members as new priorities arise, which they inevitably will given the rapid pace at which communications needs and habits are changing. I want the ABSW to be a visible participant in forming the new science writing landscape. It is an immense honour to be president of the ABSW, and I would very much like your support to continue in the post for a proper term of office. There’s more about me at  

Connie St Louis

Nominators: Martin Ince/Beki Hill
I have served on the board of the ABSW for the last four years, first as the Treasurer and then as the President.  During this time I am proud to have overseen the overhaul of the governance of the ABSW, including the transition to being a limited company, and to be leaving the association in excellent good financial and organizational shape. I have decided to resign as President in order to complete a PhD, which will demand a large input of my time and attention over in the next six months. There is, however, important unfinished governance work still to be completed in Europe, which I am asking for your support to complete over the coming months.

Mico Tatalovic

Nominators: Richa Malhotra/Josh Howgego
In my two years on the board, I have commissioned and edited news stories for the website, helped redesign the website, instigated the launch the new student science publication awards, and organised a student science magazine stand at the UKCSJ2012.  I have campaigned for a more open and rational use of ABSW funds: by freezing a large portion of them in a savings account and using the interest to fund activities for members, e.g. travel grants. I have also campaigned for more members-polling on issues such as setting up new grants to see what the members would like to see the association do for them. I voted for more support to members, for example for ABSW to subsidise EUSJA grants so they are cost-free to members, and for fellowships to attend the WCSJ in Helsinki. I am sorry that these did not go through, despite ABSW being in a comfortable position where it could offer more kickbacks to its members.  I have also advocated for a better international integration, with our twinned organisation in Uganda and the European EUSJA, whose membership we pay into.  Currently, I am working on draft policy on how to respond to pitches from special-interest donors wishing to start new science-writing prizes. I am keen to keep trying to make the board more responsive to its members and press on with supporting student and early-career members as well as more prudent use of resources, by actually increasing spending but on activities members call for.  

Wendy Grossman

Nominators: Martin Ince/Mico Tatalovic
I've been on the committee/board for some years. Since my journalism specialty is anything to do with the Internet (policy or technology), my primary function and the reason I was originally drafted onto it is to help with technical matters regarding the ABSW's use of IT (including the Web site, social media, etc.) I believe my secondary function is to ask pesky questions. For a bio, credits, and links to samples of my work, please see my Web site,

Katharine Sanderson

Nominators: Mark Peplow/Richard Van Noorden
I’m a freelancer, having previously been on staff at Nature and Chemistry World, and would like to be more closely involved with the science writing community by joining the board of the ABSW as a general member. I hope that I’d be able to represent a broad group of writers, including those who like me are enjoying the freedom of working for themselves outside the confines of London: both things that whilst invigorating also bring with them challenges.   If elected, I would support the general activities of the board in whatever way I can. There are some specific areas that I’d like to address given the chance.  Freelance rates are an area of concern and I would like to help ABSW keep a closer eye on them, and if appropriate go some way to addressing the unsustainable direction in which they seem to be headed.   As a new mother, I’d also like to think of ways that ABSW can support other working parents – perhaps by simply offering an ear or advice to those who might feel overwhelmed, or by organising a range of other more ambitious initiatives.   My experience as a writer is wide-ranging, and has involved most recently establishing a successful and varied freelance career whilst spending large chunks of time outside the UK. Previously I tackled the demands of daily news and in-depth features at Nature, and editing and writing news and features on the small team at Chemistry World. My education was largely science-focussed: I have a BSc and PhD in chemistry and learned my journalism skills on-the-job.  I have spent time mentoring new writers, and given advice to researchers about dealing with the media. I hope that my experience will allow me to relate to a broad sweep of the ABSW membership and make me a valuable member of the ABSW executive board.

Harriet Bailey

Nominators: Martin Ince/Connie St Louis
I have been Treasurer of the ABSW for the past year, taking over from Jacob Aron's sterling work in January 2013. In that time we have, as a Board and with advice from our accountants, streamlined the accounts and made them more comprehensible for the auditors and members so that it's clear where the ABSW funds are coming from and being spent.  There is still more to do to further consolidate the accounts so that they are comparable to previous years and I hope to be able to help the ABSW achieve this over the next year. I've learnt a great deal about how an organisation works through being involved on the Board and what is necessary for the smooth operation of the finances. Along with the Bookkeeper, we have a simple and effective system for checking and processing transactions.  I've been a member of the ABSW for three years since my Science Journalism MA at City University and am a freelance Researcher for science television. The ABSW is a great organisation to be part of and I am grateful for the opportunity I've had over the past year to meet so many successful and inspiring science writers from across the country.

Beki Hill

Nominators: Penny Sarchet/Mun-Keat Looi
I am a current member of the board, and have responsibility for organising events for the ABSW. I have been a member of the ABSW since 2010, when I was a student on the City University science journalism course. I now write about science policy and research funding at Research Fortnight and Research Europe magazines. As a general board member, I hope to represent the younger generation of reporters.  In my role as events organiser, I have organised a number of events, including 'In conversation with John Beddington' as part of the Science Museum Lates, and the UKCSJ 'Dragon's Den' pitching session. I believe I have the necessary skills in planning and event organising to continue in this position, and if I am re-elected, I would like to establish a more regular series of ABSW events, something I am already working towards. I'd like the ABSW board to work more closely with its members, and would be very happy to hear members' thoughts and suggestions on future events or topics. I'd also like to see more engagement with specialist reporters across the country, and am keen to think about events that are less London-centric. - the love child of Medium and Kickstarter

A new online platform that changes the way in-depth articles are produced has recently been launched called 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 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 [ ], 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 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 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 [ 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.

  • You can find out more about here and follow on Twitter @contributoria or Facebook or feel free to contact me directly This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


ABSW Investigative Science Journalism Fellowship - Open for Applications

The Association of British Science Writers would like to encourage investigative science journalism within the UK and has therefore established a Fellowship to enable a journalist experienced in investigative journalism to carry out a detailed investigation.  It is hoped that the Fellowship will be made annually however this will be reviewed after year one.  The Fellowship is to support an experienced journalist who would otherwise not be able to carry out this work (ie: employer cannot support the necessary timescale/freelancer that cannot financially support themselves for a longer term investigation).   The ABSW is also looking at ways of encouraging newcomers to the field and of encouraging investigative journalism in science more widely.
There will be two stages to the Fellowship Programme:   
In stage one three individuals will be selected and provided with ‘seed funding’ to further develop their proposal and to secure commitment from an editor for publication or broadcast of their investigation.  
In stage two one individual will be selected to receive full funding to complete their investigation. The Fellowship is open to ABSW full members whether they are staff or freelance (to join the ABSW see here). You may apply for the Fellowship whilst your application for ABSW membership is considered; you do not have to wait for confirmation of membership. 
Applicants need to be currently based and working out of the UK and remain so for the duration of the project. The Fellowship does not support overseas travel and proposals need to have implications nationally or locally within the UK.
Applying for the Fellowship (stage one):
To apply for the Fellowship the applicant must write a detailed proposal for the full investigation that they wish to carry out.  NB: Even though this is for stage one ‘seed funding’ the ABSW will require full details of the investigation that would be undertaken at stage two.
The ABSW encourages proposals that offer groundbreaking stories. However, if the subject has been covered previously, please acknowledge that coverage and explain how the proposed investigation would significantly advance the story. 
Proposals must be journalistic and break ‘news’ and be able to be completed within three months (full time) or the equivalent timescale if being completed part time. NB: Flexibility will be built into the stage two fellowship so that the investigation can be completed.  Reviews at various time points will be built into the stage two fellowship to monitor progress and allow for any time extension deemed necessary by the ABSW 
The proposal should outline the story, what you expect to uncover, how this will be done, and the types of sources to be used.  The ABSW will expect evidence of a strong case for the investigation which will require the applicant to already have carried out some initial investigative work to support their case.   The stage one fellowship will not support initial development of a ‘hunch’ or ‘idea’.  The proposal should outline the further work that the seed funding would support to develop the investigation.
Proposals should not run to more than 1000 words and should include, details of the exiting evidence already gathered by the journalist, a paragraph or two summarizing the crux of the story and details of how the seed funding would be used.  
Include the anticipated start and completion date of the full investigation in the proposal. 
Proposals will remain the intellectual property of the applicant and will be treated with the strictest confidence.
The ABSW will expect the applicant to have considered any legal implications of their investigation and to have outlined them within the proposal. The ABSW will have no legal responsibility for the actions of the Fellow or the final published/broadcast work.
The proposal must be supported by the following documents:
  • CV 
  • Detailed budget for the full investigation
  • Two examples of published/broadcast investigative work 
The budget should give a detailed breakdown of the costs identified by the journalist for carrying out the full investigation, the main costs will be expected to be a salary costs for freelancers and for staff journalists who will be required to take an agreed unpaid sabbatical from their employer to complete the project (either full or part time).
The Fellowship will not cover capital costs such as the purchase of computers/cameras etc but could for example include the purchase of software for data analysis.  
In the case of journalists with staff positions the application for the Fellowship must be discussed and agreed with their employer before submission.  The ABSW will of course discuss the Fellowship with your employer if they have particular queries or concerns. 
Selection/Notification Process:
From the stage one proposals three individuals will be selected to receive seed funding of between £500 and £1000 to further develop their ideas and to obtain a statement of commitment from an editor stating that the project will be published or broadcast if completed according to the proposal and in accordance with the outlet’s news standards (the editors contact details will also be required and the ABSW reserves the right to contact the editor if necessary).  
Those selected to receive ‘seed funding’ will be notified within a month of the closing date for applications and will be required to further develop their proposal for submission to the ABSW within one month of payment of the seed funding.
Stage one awardees will be notified within one month of submission of their secondary proposal re their success or otherwise in receiving the full funding (stage two).
Payment of stage one Fellowship funding:
Payment will be made in full for those selected for stage one ‘seed funding’
Payment of stage two Fellowship funding:
Two thirds of the funding will be made to the successful applicant at the outset of the fellowship period.   The remaining third will be paid on the successful completion of the project.
Application Process:
Please ensure you have read all of the above requirements before completing the application form.  You are strongly advised to prepare your proposal, budget and CV in a separate programme so that you may then save it and copy and paste into the application form.   The application form can not save part completed applications.
Closing Date: Midnight Wednesday 7 May 2014
Notification of Fellowship seed funding (one month after closing date)
All enquiries should be directed to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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The 3rd UK Conference of Science Journalists will take place in London on Wed 18 June 2014. See what's in store by taking a look back at the 2nd UK Conference of Science Journalists

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