ABSW News

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.

Tatiana Koenig, the managing director of the Falling Walls Foundation, explained at the outset that Berlin's mayor made the decision a few years ago to embrace digitization as an area of research funded in partnership between government and industry. These are some of the early results. This is the first year of Science Week, which is being built around Falling Walls, now in its eighth year. It's held on November 9, the anniversary of the day the Wall came down and also, as several speakers noted, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the huge Nazi pogrom against the Jews.

The first day, we visited the European School of Management and Technology, Beuth University's Neuroroboticcs lab, and the Berlin Technical University. The first, an industry-funded program marrying technology and business, has taken over what "in the Eastern times" was the state capitol building. One programme, GTech@@, allows start-ups to locate on-site for a year when they're established and ready to scale up, and provides access to business expertise and MBA students to help them make the transition.

The Neurorobotics lab was, for me, the most interesting: a robotics project that is taking a novel approach. Instead of focusing on a computer to run the robot and process the data the robot receives from built-in sensors, the project is removing as many sensors as it can and building to use the lowest amount of energy. The Myon robot we saw can autonomously rise from a squat on the ground to stand up, swaying slightly (as humans do, too, thought we're usually not aware of it). When one of the researchers took it by the wrists and moved backward, it took a few hesitant steps forward, like a small child.

Finally, the Technical University showed off its work on 3D printing; it has partnered with the Egyptian Museum to produce copies of the pre-restoration version of Akhnaton's statue; with the local zoo to copy a beloved bear's head; and is working on scaffolding for human tissue to grow individualised heart valves. Finally, the evening reception at the Natural History Museum, focused on bio@@ for
sustainability, pointing to the diaosaur skeletons dominating the room as examples of why this work is essential for our own survival.

We were offered a choice of activities for the second day. These included Falling Walls lab, where young scientists and researchers present three-minute summaries of their ideas; Falling Walls Venture, a similar event for start-ups; a day-long discussion of RNA medicine; and another on DIY/citizen science. I opted for the least sciencey-sounding of the group because it sounded like the subject I knew least about: the day-long discussion, "The liberal order under siege?" at the Aspen Institute. Everyone was conscious this discussion was taking place on November 8, election day in the US. I couldn't help feeling that most people present were part of the group that populists are rising to oppose: the general tone was that the liberal order that has prevailed since 1945 and that the EU was created to preserve was indubitably right. A broader view came from a couple of sources. First, Jozsef Czukor, a former advisor to the Hungarian prime minister, who described his political experience as bipolar as he tried to communicate both with the more liberal urban population and the rural population that feels it's losing its life and livelihood. The rhetoric surrounding Wallonia's resistance to the Canada-EU Trade agreement, painted them as backward and a minority that deserved to be ignored, when the reality is that the livelihood of millions was under threat. The second was Ian Kearns, who has campaigned for political office in Britain and argued that the liberal order cannot survive without addressing the legitimate grievances of populations for whom it has not worked and who see banks being bailed out and countries bankrupted.

The third day was the Falling Walls conference itself. This slickly organized event was made up of four sessions of four speakers, each of whom was limited to 15 minutes. Topics included merging the fight against climate change with the fight against slavery; understanding the human microbiome; farming robots; and understanding radicalization. The talks should be online, and are worth hearing, although I found that on subjects I knew something about (cyber security, especially) the talks were too shallow to teach me anything new. Discussion happens separately, on staged forums in a space so loud and crowded that participants use a microphone and a receiving audio device with headphones, and there were arrangements for press interviews to pursue topics in greater depth. Falling Walls goes to some effort to invite journalists every year, and I'd say it's worth the trip, particularly if you're looking for ideas for new topics to write about.

Wendy Grossman, is a member of the ABSW Executive Board and a freelance science writer

After consulting members and discussion on the ABSW email discussion list the following submission has been made on behalf of the ABSW to the Science and Technology Committee science communication inquiry.

For further details of the inquiry: 

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/science-communication-inquiry-15-16/

Science and Technology Committee (Commons) science communication inquiry: Association of British Science Writers submission

September 2016

The ABSW is a UK membership organisation set up in 1947 to promote the public good by improving general access to well-informed writing about science and technology, including scientific, but not practitioner, areas of medicine. It is the oldest body of its kind apart from the National Association of Science Writers in the US, and has nearly 300 members.
We work in a number of ways, especially by the provision of training and networking for members, the holding of professional development events, and running the UK’s national prizes for science writing and journalism. This note sets out some of our members’ key concerns as they emerged from a recent consultation. It does not reflect the full views of our membership, who between them share a wide range of opinion and insight.

Our members do their work in a wide range of ways. Some make radio and television programmes; others write books (over 100 of them in one individual’s case); others work mainly online and in print. However, our concern here is to emphasise the importance of a specific area of our work, front-line science journalism, rather than the profession as a whole.

Science journalists carry out a vital yet sometimes under-appreciated role in the communication of science to the public. They are not simply conveyors of scientific information, but also act as guardians of the public interest. They have a unique role within the broader body of science communicators because they are independent from the individuals and organisations that perform science. This means in turn that they have a wider remit than the science public relations profession.

While science journalists play an important role in informing the public about new developments in science, including any implications for society, they also have a responsibility to the public to scrutinise both scientists and their work critically. This watchdog function is also a service to the scientific community (although this is often not appreciated) because it helps to expose and discourage wrongdoing and bad behaviour by scientists.

The climate for science journalism in the UK has improved in many ways in recent years, for example by the establishment of a range of (usually) Masters-level courses in science communications. However, science journalism has also been exposed to the same pressures as other areas of journalism, particularly in traditional print and broadcast media. Greater pressure on budgets, largely due to a decline in revenue from advertising and other sources, has led to cuts in staff, including science correspondents and editors, in many newspapers and broadcast news organisations. Nevertheless, most, but not all, UK national newspapers still have at least one science news specialist on their staff. At the same time, a number of new digital news organisations have appeared over the past few years and have hired science reporters.

Changes in the consumption of news, particularly online, mean that audiences can be more selective about which stories they read. While stories about science, health and technology are often rated as relatively popular in surveys of audiences, they can be easier for a casual reader to miss online than if they appear in a printed newspaper or feature on a broadcast news bulletin. Conversely, the interested reader online can reach a wider range of stories, in greater detail, than those who rely on print and broadcast media.

It can be difficult for traditional and new media alike to cover science stories if they do not have a dedicated science reporter. Science journalists often build up extensive networks of experts who can provide advice, insight and comment. This in turn allows more rigorous journalistic examination of a story. And they often have better background knowledge of key scientific issues than do general reporters.

Our members now feel that most of the science writing in British media is generally consensual and does not raise problematic issues. While a new scientific discovery is likely to be well-reported, difficult subjects are often neglected for lack of time and resources, in a media world where people are under pressure to be highly productive in terms of word counts rather than content.
Thus, we know that there is a growing sense of unease about the reliability of scientific research, typified by the increasing number of papers retracted from the scientific literature, and the new awareness that many scientific findings might not be as reproducible as had been imagined. These are stories that can only be pursued with time and effort, which are all too often at a premium in contemporary newsrooms.

In response to this pressure, the ABSW has set aside money to encourage original, investigative science journalism. To our disappointment, we have been unable to find suitable projects to fund, in part because even a major investigative scoop is not seen by journalists as a career positive.

This issue matters partly because science is important (we hope your Committee does not need to be convinced of this), and partly because journalism is important. It is now easy for scientists and science organisations to communicate directly with the public. Many of our members work for scientific bodies that produce their own high-quality scientific publications, and we welcome this development. However a research charity, or an individual scientist with a blog, does not have to tell uncomfortable stories. They write about what interests them, not about what is important, and have no incentive to write anything critical about things that did not work or which show them in a poor light. So the growth in these forms of publishing, which to reiterate is welcomed by the ABSW, needs to be balanced by resources for independent journalism in this field.

In addition, our members note that scientific institutions and organisations themselves are making increasing use of their ability to control the way news is reported about their activities. For example, both the recent Planet 9 paper and the A-LIGO observation of gravitational waves were initially revealed only to a select group of trusted journalists, not to the world at large, despite their global interest. We would very much like to see this practice replaced by general journalistic access to any major story. This very basic research is, of course, paid for almost entirely by the taxpayer around the world. It should be recognised that stronger media management by scientific organisations and institutions can make it more difficult for science journalists to scrutinise the actions of scientists critically, potentially undermining the public interest.

There are many organisations that communicate science effectively. The job of science journalists, however, is to scrutinise developments with a critical eye. Just as wider society is best served by the work of this committee in critically examining the workings of government, it is, we hope, also served by our talented and skilled community of science journalists holding the research community to account. Science journalists are independent and are provide a valuable civic service by helping to ensure that scientific organisations, individual scientists and the work they produce is ethical, offers value for money and promotes the good.

We are aware that this pressure on original, high-quality science journalism is only part of the story, and that other specialisms from sport to health suffer from the same syndrome. In addition, the ABSW is an active participant in science journalism globally. We held the World Conference of Science Journalists in London in 2009, and the 3rd European Conference of Science Journalists earlier this year in Manchester. We know therefore that similar issues to those we have mentioned here arise around the world. However, our members are especially conscious of these pressures as they affect the UK. We would be grateful if you could reinforce the case for independent, questioning science journalism in your findings, and are of course happy to answer any questions you might have.

Martin Ince
President, Association of British Science Writers

www.absw.org.uk
@absw

The ABSW was saddened to hear of the death of long standing member Andrew Veitch.

Tim Radford, another long standing member of the Association, has written an obituary for the Guardian which we thought members might like to read:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/23/andrew-veitch-obituary

 

As part of its ongoing work to encourage investigative science journalism, the ABSW awarded four journalism fellowships to fund attendance at this year's Centre for Investigative (CIJ) Journalism Summer Conference.  ABSW member Wendy Grossman reports back.

For the 1970s generation investigative journalism has an identity problem. That is, many people tend to associate it with exposing fraud, pinpointing corruption, and bringing down governments and rich people. ABSW members therefore might logically ask, what does that have to do with science?

One of the most detailed - and to me, most useful - tutorials at this year's mid-July summer school run by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (www.tcij.org) extended across four sessions in which longtime journalists Luuk Sengers and Mark Lee Hunter (www.storybasedinquiry.com) methodically worked their way through the stages of building and researching a story: hypothesis, timeline, scenes, sources, and fieldwork. Especially helpfully, Hunter explained how he organises and keeps track of the material he collects. The example they chose to illustrate their work? The possibility that toxic chemicals were leaking out of plastic pipes into drinking water. Doesn't that sound like science? (Their process for developing that particular story is written up in their short book The Hidden Scenario: Plotting and Outlining Investigative Stories, which you can acquire from the CIJ website. From their own website you can download, for free, The Global Investigative Journalism Casebook and Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists.))

Other classes included numerous tutorials on various technical tools for data journalism: Excel; Access; R and RStudio; OpenRefine (taught by Jonathan Stoneman, who appeared at the 2015 ABSW summer school); graph databases; and even some bits of Python coding. For case studies the data journalists used to show the potential, one, presented by a journalist working for Greenpeace, studied the allocation of fish quotas in the UK, finding that only three companies own ost of the UK's fish.

Other speakers included veteran reporter James B. Steele; Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermeyer, who led the extensive Panama Papers investigations; Hajo Seppelt, the journalist who broke the Russian doping story; Duncan Campbell on computer forensics; and many others. Some workshops focused on getting the best out of a particular service, such as Companies House, which has opened up free access to its data, and offshore finance. Finally, the former policeman Neil Smith discussed using open source - that is, public - data sources; his website (www.uk-osint.net) is full of valuable links.

Probably many people's image of investigative journalists is confrontational, ferreting out secrets by asking people questions they don't want to answer. While that's true, what became clear at this event is the vital role of documents in establishing the truth of what's happening. You are, as Steele, Hunter, and Sengers all said, in a much stronger position if you can go to the source you've identified, show them the documentary evidence and say, "This is what happened, right?" instead of "What happened?"

To do that kind of work, as many speakers said, contacts and interviews are still important, but even more so is an appetite for finding and absorbing detailed documentary information; all sorts of treasure troves are kept that hardly anyone eever looks at and whose keepers are thrilled when someone expresses a genuine interest.

The ABSW has been trying to encourage encourage interest in investigative journalism, first by offering a grant to aid members who need time and resources to tackle specific projects, and second, by offering scholarships to this year's CIJ summer school as a good place to pick up skills, resources, and ideas. Often, when all we see is the results of a lengthy investigation, it all looks simple, which is probably why so many people think such work is about finding the right contacts and nosing out secrets. The value in CIJ's sessions is that enormously experienced people are willing to show their work - the how - so that others may continue and extend it.

So far, the number of meembers applying for either has been disappointing. Yet, as I hope the above has shown, although you may never be the person who's approached with a giant data dump like the journalists who worked on the Panama Papers, investigative skills are ones that ought to be valuable to every science journalist. Developing a hypothesis, breaking it down into facts that can be tested, then reassembling the pieces into a piece of truth - isn't that what both scientists and science journalists do?

Good investigative journalism - even good investigative *science* journalism - is being done in all sorts of places outside the traditional media, from NGOs to tiny cooperatively funded start-ups such as the Bristol Cable and Scotland's The Ferret, both of which presented their progress at this year's event. These are skills that, as veteran investigative reporter James B. Steele says, will always be valued.

 

It’s now almost six months since the death of Mike Hanlon, a superb science journalist and friend to many of us.

As you may know, Mike had all but given up science journalism to pursue Jurassica. This project will recreate, in a disused Dorset quarry, the lost world of the Jurassic. The scheme is backed by David Attenborough, the local community and has received some local and national funding. I am one of the trustees.

A few days after Mike’s death, the trustees decided to continue the project. A decision we made with our heads as much as our hearts. It is an incredible vision, which I have been privileged to have been involved with since Mike pitched it to me in a Greenwich pub.

Over the last six months, Jurassica has moved forward to a key stage and we are ready to start preparing the planning application. With this and major fundraising under preparation, Jurassica needs to keep its core team going to the end of the year.

To help raise the £55,000 needed to get the project to this key stage, we have set up a memorial fund in Mike’s memory. This enables people to make smaller donations than we are otherwise seeking.

As we all know, Mike's fascination with the prehistoric came from his childhood, discovering fossils on the Dorset coast. The trustees plan to set up educational visits for youngsters to the Isle of Portland so that they can be similarly enthused and inspired. Once we have secured the core team and planning permission, we intend to start work on establishing this. Donations to the fund will then be invested in these future generations of prehistory enthusiasts.

If you would like to contribute to Jurassica’s Michael Hanlon Memorial Fund, please go to:

http://jurassica.org/more-info/

Do get in touch if you have any queries.

Thanks

Richard Hollingham
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The ABSW Science Writers' Awards for Great Britain and Ireland were presented at a ceremony at the bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank on Saturday 23 July 2016.  The ceremony was hosted by Martin Ince, President of the ABSW and Seema Kumar Johnson & Johnson VP of Innovation, Global Health & Policy Communications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

European Science Writer of the Year 2016

Left to right: Steve Connor, Seema Kumar, Michele Catanzaro

 

Steve Connor, UK Science Writer of the Year and Michele Catanzaro, Winner European Science Writer of the Year, receive their awards from Seema Kumar

 

 

 

 

Winner: Spanish Science Writer of the Year, Michele Catanzaro, a freelance science journalist nominated by Asociacion Española de Comunicacion Cientifica, AECC (Spanish Association of Scientific Communication) & Associació Catalana de Comunicació Científica - ACCC (Catalan Association for Science Communication, Spain)

The judges said: We were impressed by the quality and depth of the investigative work carried out by Michele either on his own or when leading a team of other journalists. Michele showed great judgement in finding others to complement his journalistic skills and knowledge in order to carry these investigations.

Highly Commended: French Science Writer of the Year, Stéphane Foucart, a Journalist for the daily French newspaper Le Monde nominated by Association des journalistes scientifiques de la presse d'information

The judges said: Stephane should be applauded for holding the scientific establishment to account in his work for Le Monde.

Other Country nominees (each nominee becomes science writer of the year in their nominating country)

Austrian Science Writer of the Year – Elisabeth Schneyder, freelance, nominated by the Austrian Association of Education and Science Journalists

Danish Science Writer of the Year – Jens Ramskov, Journalist at Ingeniøren, nominated by the Danish Science Journalists Association

Dutch Science Writer of the Year – Aliette Jonkers, freelance, nominated by VWN, the Dutch national association for science journalism and communication

Estonian Science Writer of the Year – Arko Olesk, freelance, nominated by the Estonian Association of Science Journalists

Greek Science Writer of the Year – Spiros Kitsinelis, science communicator, nominated by Science View (Greece)

Irish Science Writer of the Year – Claire O’Connell, freelance, nominated by the Irish Science & Technology Journalists' Association (ISTJA)

Serbian Science Writer of the Year – Slobodan Bubnjevic, Editor-in-chief, ELEMENTI, nominated by Mreza Naucnih Novinara, Serbia (The Science Journalist Network)

UK Science Writer of the Year – Steve Connor, freelance (former science editor the Independent), nominated by the Association of British Science Writers

ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland 2016 – shortlists in all categories (links to winning pieces are provided where available)

Best feature

Natasha Loder, The age of the red pen: It is now easy to edit the genomes of plants, animals and humans, published in the Economist, 22/08/2015

The judges said: So well written, a definitive and superb piece on a very technical subject that explores aspects of this story that are both encouraging and worrying at the same time.  

Best news item

Michael Le Page, Earth now halfway to warming limit, published in New Scientist, 01/08/2015

The judges said: A new twist on a story that needs to keep hitting the headlines.

Best scripted/edited television programme or online video

Joint Winners

Team entry: BBC Science Series Editor: Steve Crabtree. Series Producer: Paul King. Producer and Director: Peter Leonard. Researcher: Claudia Woolston.  Horizon - OCD: A monster in my mind. First broadcast BBC Two 26/08/2015

The judges said: A compelling combination of human interest with hard science. Or at least as hard as we have – and that was perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this – showing how little we know.

Team entry: Director: Thom Hoffman. Producer: Lizzie Crouch. Animator: Patrick Koduah. Animator: Victor Opeyokun. Malaria: How can changing the built environment reduce cases? First broadcast Health Check on BBC World News TV 11/05/2015

The judges said: Saying something really important, really well to a broad audience.

The Royal Society Radio Prize (NB: A prize for the best scripted/edited radio programme or podcast, supported by The Royal Society):

Team: Writer and presenter: James Piercy. Producer: Toby Murcott. My Head. Pier Production for BBC Radio 4 and World Service. First broadcast 06/05/20

The judges said: A brilliant original idea, delicately handled, blending accurate science with heart-rending human interest, top notch.

Best investigative journalism

Team entry: Maria Cheng & Raphael Satter. Botching Ebola, published by Associated Press, 20/03/2015

The judges said: The depth of investigation was impressive and this is an issue that has implications on a global scale

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.

Jennie Agg. Inside the metabolism room published in the Good Health section, Daily Mail 29/12/2015

The judges said: An extremely well targeted piece that tackles widely held beliefs to a very broad audience.

Best newcomer

Faye Kirkland, Freelance

The judges said: A real self starter with impressive investigative work reaching a large audience.

Faye Kirkland receives her award from Seema Kumar

Best student science blog

Sophie McManus receives her Award from Seema Kumar and Martin Ince

 

Sophie McManus, University of Cambridge. Women in Science - A Call to Arms. Biodetectives 09/03/2015

The judges said: A bold subject for a young writer, written with humour and packed full of evidence

Dr Katharine Giles Science blog award. In memory of Dr Katharine Giles, NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Polar Observation and Measurement (CPOM) at UCL.

Alex Bellos, Alex Bellos's Adventures in Numberland, The Guardian

The judges said: Reveals amazement in a few tight sentences, drawing you in even if you sometimes get lost along the way.

The IOP student science publication award supported by IOP Publishing and the Institute of Physics

Alisha Aman & Aidan McFadden of TheGist receive their award from Seema Kumar

Winner

TheGIST- The Glasgow Insight into Science and Technology, University of Glasgow/University of Strathclyde

The judges said: A magazine that knows its audience, great mix of articles, in an accessible style.

Runner-up

The Young Scientists Journal, Herts and Essex High School

Lifetime Achievement Award 2016

Winner: Deborah Cohen, Editor BBC Radio Science Unit

Deborah Cohen and Georgina Ferry, ABSW Awards Ceremony

Introductory speech to Deborah Cohen given by Georgina Ferry at the ABSW Science Writers' Awards Ceremony

Sallie’s asked me to do this introduction so cryptically that you don’t guess who it is until I get to the end. This is uniquely difficult in the case of tonight’s winner but I’ll have a go.

I guess most of you like me have had portfolio careers, starting out in magazines or newspapers and then meandering through radio, TV or web content, veering off into corporate communications or settling down to a book or two.

But tonight’s winner found a niche early on and has stayed there ever since.

This person has produced a body of work of an extent and quality that I can’t imagine anyone else could match; has made engaging, accessible and challenging content without losing the trust of the scientific community; has trained a generation of successors to meet the same exacting standards; and has kept a clear vision for the place of science in a constantly evolving media landscape.

It’s the nature of our winner’s chosen occupation that its practitioners never become celebrities. Even their largest employer’s own website often doesn’t credit their work, and then it’s in print too small to read.

You’ve probably guessed that I’m talking about a radio producer. Tonight’s winner joined the BBC in 1979 as researcher in the Radio Science Unit, in short order became producer, senior producer. Since 1990, this person has been Science Editor for BBC Radio and subsequently took on the World Service science programmes as well. The literally thousands of programmes this producer has overseen run from the late lamented Science Now to the hugely popular Life Scientific and Infinite Monkey Cage.

I personally owe her a huge debt as she taught me everything I know about scripting and presenting for radio. With her ‘ear’ and her judgement, the programmes we made together have been the most enjoyable collaborations of my working life.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in giving a richly-deserved moment in the limelight to the winner of the 2016 ABSW Lifetime Achievement award – Deborah Cohen.

 

                                                                                              

Shortlist Announced ABSW Science Writers' Awards for Great Britain and Ireland 2016

Winner announced European Science Writer of the Year 2016

The judging panel has met and decided the shortlists for the Association of British Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland 2016, and the winner of the European Science Writer of the Year Award 2016.   Martin Ince, Chair of the Judging Panel and President of the ABSW said: “Our awards go from strength to strength and this year we had the largest number of entries to date.  The European Science Writer of the Year, now in its second year, has revealed a wealth of talent across Europe and has strengthened links between the ABSW and our European colleagues.”

The winners of all categories will be announced at the ABSW Science Writers Awards Ceremony on 23rd July at Jodrell Bank, following the 3rd European Conference of Science Journalists.  The European Award and all other ABSW Awards are supported by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

European Science Writer of the Year 2016

Winner: Spanish Science Writer of the Year, Michele Catanzaro, a freelance science journalist nominated by Asociacion Española de Comunicacion Cientifica, AECC (Spanish Association of Scientific Communication) & Associació Catalana de Comunicació Científica - ACCC (Catalan Association for Science Communication, Spain)

Highly Commended: French Science Writer of the Year, Stéphane Foucart, a Journalist for the daily French newspaper Le Monde nominated by Association des journalistes scientifiques de la presse d'information

Other Country nominees (each nominee becomes science writer of the year in their nominating country)

Austrian Science Writer of the Year – Elisabeth Schneyder, freelance, nominated by the Austrian Association of Education and Science Journalists

Danish Science Writer of the Year – Jens Ramskov, Journalist at Ingeniøren, nominated by the Danish Science Journalists Association

Dutch Science Writer of the Year – Aliette Jonkers, freelance, nominated by VWN, the Dutch national association for science journalism and communication

Estonian Science Writer of the Year – Arko Olesk, freelance, nominated by the Estonian Association of Science Journalists

Greek Science Writer of the Year – Spiros Kitsinelis, science communicator, nominated by Science View (Greece)

Irish Science Writer of the Year – Claire O’Connell, freelance, nominated by the Irish Science & Technology Journalists' Association (ISTJA)

Serbian Science Writer of the Year – Slobodan Bubnjevic, Editor-in-chief, ELEMENTI, nominated by Mreza Naucnih Novinara, Serbia (The Science Journalist Network)

UK Science Writer of the Year – Steve Connor, freelance (former science editor the Independent), nominated by the Association of British Science Writers

 

ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland 2016 – shortlists in all categories (links to shortlisted pieces are provided where available)

Best feature

Erika Check Hayden, Ebola's lasting legacy, published in Nature, 05/03/2015

Suzanne Goldenberg, The doomsday vault: the seeds that could save a post-apocalyptic world, published in The Guardian, 20/05/2015

Natasha Loder, The age of the red pen: It is now easy to edit the genomes of plants, animals and humans, published in the Economist, 22/08/2015

Best news item

Daniel Clery, Dark horse scores a fusion coup, published in Science magazine, 28/08/2015

Steve Connor, Britain to Genetically Modify Human Embryos, the Independent,      18/09/2015

Michael Le Page, Earth now halfway to warming limit, published in New Scientist, 01/08/2015

Best scripted/edited television programme or online video

Team entry: Producer/Director: Tim Usborne. Executive Producer: Jane Aldous. Executive Producer: Mark Tattersall. Assistant Producer: James Sandy. Britain's Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield. First broadcast BBC Four 10/08/2015

Team entry: BBC Science Series Editor: Steve Crabtree. Series Producer: Paul King. Producer and Director: Peter Leonard. Researcher: Claudia Woolston.  Horizon - OCD: A monster in my mind. First broadcast BBC Two 26/08/2015

Team entry: Director: Thom Hoffman. Producer: Lizzie Crouch. Animator: Patrick Koduah. Animator: Victor Opeyokun. Malaria: How can changing the built environment reduce cases? First broadcast Health Check on BBC World News TV 11/05/2015

The Royal Society Radio Prize (NB: A prize for the best scripted/edited radio programme or podcast, supported by The Royal Society):

Kerri Smith. Music and the making of science. Nature Podcast. First broadcast 12/03/2015

Team: Writer and presenter: James Piercy. Producer: Toby Murcott. My Head. Pier Production for BBC Radio 4 and World Service. First broadcast 06/05/2015

Team:  Research, Production & Script Writing:  Max Sanderson. Production, Script Writing, and Sound Design: Hana Walker-Brown. Research, Script Writing, and Presenting:  Dr Michael Brooks. Presenting: Rick Edwards. Science(ish). A podcast produced in-house for the online and app-based platform Radio Wolfgang. First broadcast  03/12/2015

Best investigative journalism

Damian Carrington. Revealed: the flood defences missing after government cuts, published in the Guardian 08/12/2015

Team entry: Maria Cheng & Raphael Satter. Botching Ebola, published by Associated Press, 20/03/2015

Faye Kirkland. Vitamin and mineral infusions, first broadcast on BBC 5 Live 04/01/2015

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.

Jennie Agg. Inside the metabolism room published in the Good Health section, Daily Mail 29/12/2015

Philip Ball. The God quest: why humans long for immortality, published in New Statesman 30/07/2015

Max Glaskin. What's Stopping You? Published in Bikes Etc magazine 02/11/2015

Best newcomer

Alex O'Brien, Freelance

Faye Kirkland, Freelance

Dalmeet Singh Chawla,  Retraction Watch, formerly freelance

Best student science blog

James Iremonger, Heriot-Watt University. Labyrinthula: navigating the maze. James Iremonger’s blog 16/08/2015

Sophie McManus, University of Cambridge. Women in Science - A Call to Arms. Biodetectives 09/03/2015

Thomas Webb, University of Paul Sabatier & University of Reading. What is the biggest air pollution event in the modern era? EGU blogging platform 24/06/2015

Dr Katharine Giles Science blog award. In memory of Dr Katharine Giles, NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Polar Observation and Measurement (CPOM) at UCL.

Philip Ball, Prospect blog, Prospect

Alex Bellos, Alex Bellos's Adventures in Numberland, The Guardian

Barbara Kiser, A View from the Bridge: Nature's Books and Arts blog, Nature

The IOP student science publication award supported by IOP Publishing and the Institute of Physics

Explorathon 2015, University of Aberdeen

TheGIST- The Glasgow Insight into Science and Technology, University of Glasgow/University of Strathclyde

The Young Scientists Journal, Herts and Essex High School

Lifetime Achievement Award 2016

There is no shortlist for this category and the award winner will be announced at the ceremony

The ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland 2016 attracted nearly 250 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).

About Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

At the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, we are working to create a world without disease. Transforming lives by finding new and better ways to prevent, intercept, treat and cure disease inspires us. We bring together the best minds and pursue the most promising science. We are Janssen. We collaborate with the world for the health of everyone in it. Learn more at www.janssen.com. Follow us at @JanssenGlobal.

About IOP Publishing

IOP Publishing provides publications through which leading-edge scientific research is distributed worldwide. IOP Publishing is central to the Institute of Physics, a not-for-profit society. Any financial surplus earned by IOP Publishing goes to support science through the activities of the Institute. Go to ioppublishing.org or follow us @IOPPublishing.

The Institute of Physics

The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000 physicists, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications.

Follow the Institute of Physics at @PhysicsNews for more information about our publication and news from IOP.

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:

  1. Promoting science and its benefits
  2. Recognising excellence in science
  3. Supporting outstanding science
  4. Providing scientific advice for policy
  5. Fostering international and global cooperation
  6. Education and public engagement

For further information please visit http://royalsociety.org Follow the Royal Society on Twitter at http://twitter.com/royalsociety or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/theroyalsociety

3rd European Conference of Science Journalists

The 3rd European Conference of Science Journalists (ECSJ) will be held as a satellite event at EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF).   The Conference jointly organized by the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) and the European Union of Science Journalist Associations (EUSJA), replaces the ABSW’s biennial UK Conference of Science Journalists, extending its reach to journalists throughout Europe.

For further information: http://www.absw.org.uk/news-and-events/events/3rd-european-conference-of-science-journalists

 

The ABSW Annual General Meeting and social will take place on Thursday 7 April 18:30 for 19:00 start upstairs at The Lamb, 94 Lamb's Conduit St, London, WC1N 3LZ.   In accordance with the ABSW Standing Orders the Agenda is published here three weeks in advance of the meeting.

If you have any questions or queries about the AGM please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   To attend the AGM please RSVP

 

ABSW AGM AGENDA

Date and time: Thu 7 April 2016 18:30 for 19:00 start
Venue: The Lamb, 94 Lamb's Conduit St, London, WC1N 3LZ (upstairs room and bar)

Drinks and buffet provided

Invited: All ABSW members

NB: Only full and life members may vote. Quorum for the meeting is 10 voting members

1 Apologies for Absence

2 Minutes of the Last ABSW AGM held on 26 March 2015

3 Matters Arising

4 President’s Report
Martin Ince

5 Treasurer’s Report
Victoria Parsons

Statutory accounts prepared by ABSW accountants: Bowyer Pounds Ltd

Profit and loss comparison 2014/2015

Committee Expenses and Payments 2015

Proposed budget 2016

6 Auditors’ Report
Pete Wrobel/Michael Kenward

Auditors Report

7 Proposed Amendments to the ABSW Standing Orders

Martin Ince

After consultation with ABSW members the Executive Board is proposing the following changes to the ABSW Standing Orders to simplify disciplinary procedures and remove the role of honorary president.

Disciplinary procedures

Delete all existing text in Standing Order 16 and replace with:

16 Disciplinary Procedure
At its sole discretion, the board may, by a simple majority vote, expel any member whose behaviour has in its opinion brought the ABSW into serious disrepute; it will account to the next AGM for its action. The decision will be duly recorded in the Executive Board and AGM Minutes. Any member so expelled will have the right to appeal the decision at the next AGM.

Amendments to remove post of honorary president

Amend standing order 2:

2. ABSW members entitled to vote are Life Members, and Full Members who have paid the correct subscription within the previous 18 months, and the Honorary President. Student, Associate and Corporate members may not vote.

Amend standing order 9:

Membership
9. The ABSW will have the following categories of member. All new members must be approved by the Executive Board.
Honorary President

The AGM shall appoint a President of the Association, who will hold office for a period of three years. The Honorary President can be re-appointed for further terms of three years.
The rest of this standing order remains

Amend standing order 10:
Subscription
10. The subscription for each category of membership shall be determined annually by the Executive Board. The Board has the power to waive subscriptions. The Honorary President and Life Members will not pay a subscription.

Action: The AGM are asked to approve these amendments to the standing orders.

8 Election of Executive Board
Martin Ince

All posts on the Executive Board are elected annually at the AGM. This is the third year in which the Board has run its election process on line. In accordance with the Standing Orders nominations opened on 25 January 2016 and closed on 22 February 2016. The following individuals stood for election:

Martin Ince – President
Mico Tatalovic – Vice President
Connie St Louis – European Representative
Aisling Irwin - Secretary
Wendy Grossman/Katharine Sanderson/Victoria Parsons/Jack Serle/Lou del Bello/Cristina Gallardo/Emma Stoye – general post on the Board (7 maximum available)

View the candidates statements

There are therefore no contested posts and no candidates for Treasurer. 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 in mid-March 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 Victoria Parsons for her previous work as Treasurer and to retiring Executive Board members Beki Hill – particularly for her role in organizing ABSW Events, and Joshua Howgego – particularly for his liaison work with the Ugandan Science Journalists’ Association with whom the ABSW is twinned.

9 Election of Auditors
Martin Ince

The AGM are asked to elect two auditors for 2016 (auditors may not be members of the Executive Board). Pete Wrobel and Michael Kenward acted as auditors in 2015 and have both indicated they can act in this role for a further year, however the posts are open to any full member of the ABSW.

Action: Ask if any members wish to stand as auditor for 2016, take a vote to decide who should be appointed to this role

10 Appointment of Life Members
Martin Ince

The ABSW Board has no nominations for Life Members in 2016

11 Date of Next AGM
March 2017

12 Any Other Business


 

 

 

 

 

The following nominations have been received for the ABSW Executive Board Elections 2016.   None of the posts are contested so the nominations will all be taken to the AGM (Thursday 7 April ) for approval.   Full details of the ABSW's annual election process can be found on our website.

President

Martin Ince (currently ABSW President - seeking re-election)

I would very much like your support to take on my third and last full year as President. The ABSW has just completed the most extraordinary year of its existence, and has been subject to pressures far beyond those it is reasonable to place on a small organisation of this kind. I shall report fully on this sequence of events to the AGM. But despite these issues, we have succeeded in growing the association and in developing new activities such as Summer School, held for the first time during 2015. We have launched the European Science Journalist of the Year award, and will run it again as part of a steady process of enhancing our awards as a way of recognising great science writing. In addition, we have continued our joint working with the Ugandan Science Journalists' Association in ways that have benefited both organisations. In the coming year our European commitments will come to the fore with the arrival of ESOF in Manchester in July. Alongside this event, we are running the European Conference of Science Journalists, a joint venture with the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations. It's on July 23. As well as being an important meeting on the European stage, it will be the first major ABSW event to be held outside London. The message, I think, is that the current ABSW board is an effective, innovative and successful one. I'd very much like to continue to serve you all as president, in the hope that this record of shared achievement can be developed yet further. * In my working life as a writer and commentator on science and higher education, I am just starting work on Drift, a book on Earth history. So consider your Christmas present problems solved for 2017.

Nominated by Wendy Barnaby & Aisling Irwin

Vice-President

Mico Tatalovic (currently ABSW Vice-President - seeking re-election)

I have been on the ABSW committee for a few years now, most recently as vice-president, a role I would like to stay in for another year. It’s an exciting time. We are organising a growing number of events and awards, and our international standing is also on the rise. We’ve started a very popular summer school which we hope to continue as a regular event. I played a key role in initiating and organising that school, and pushing for it to become a regular event. I have also helped set up an online mentorship programme for our student/early career members. Our next UKCSJ is going to be in Manchester to coincide with ESOF, a major European science event. As such the UKCSJ is extending its reach to become a European Conference for Science Journalists, where we hope to exchange experiences and skills with our colleagues from across Europe. I am now busy working with the programme committee to make the sessions as relevant and exciting as possible. It promises to be the best ECSJ so far. We have also launched a new award for the Best European Science Writer of the Year, which we hope to continue. Both of these show our growing role on the international stage and as EUSJA is going through reforms and a new body EFSJ starts to take shape, we will no doubt be in a position to influence and improve the state of science writing not just in the UK, but also in Europe. I hope to enable ABSW to get the most out of such involvement, and out of its twinned association in Uganda. Indeed, I have helped keep on the agenda our role in twinning with USJA and how we can ensure that twinning benefits all parties. Another thing to do in the coming year will be to finally redesign our controversial logo, which seems to be disliked by many. So, if I get reelected, I hope to help organise the best UKSCJ so far; work towards an even better summer school for next year; push for the best possible deal with our membership in the two Europe-wide science journalism bodies; help keep improving our regular events – along the lines of the one we held in September on ‘New science journalism – reporting beyond the traditional media’; and get more support for investigative science journalism.

Nominated by Martin Ince & Wendy Grossman

Martin’s Update

We are nearing the end of perhaps the ABSW’s most memorable year since it was set up in 1947. This to bring you up to date after our board meeting of November 24.

The ABSW is delighted to announce a new Award that will form part of our annual ABSW Science Writers Awards for Great Britain and Ireland.
 
The Dr Katharine Giles Award: to support media training for scientists 
 

The Dr Katharine Giles Award aims to improve scientists’ media skills, encouraging scientists to speak to journalists and in so doing improve science reporting within the UK.

Dr Katharine Giles

Dr Katharine Giles was a NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer working at the Centre for Polar Observation and Measurement (CPOM) at UCL.   Her research, until her death in an accident in 2013, led to a greater understanding of the complex interactions between sea ice cover, wind patterns and ocean circulation.
 
Katharine was passionate about her research and about communicating science to the public, particularly to young people.  She was a co-author and presenter of the 2006 IEE Faraday Lecture “Emission Impossible – Can Technology Save the Planet” and she had the benefit of media training early in her research career as part of the Faraday Lecture preparation.   It is appropriate that the fund set up in her name should help other scientists communicate their science to the public by improving their skills through good quality training.
 
How the Award Works
 
The ABSW Awards run annually with a number of different categories.   Mostly the applicants and winners of awards are journalists; however, two particular categories do attract scientists as entrants and potential winners:
 
Science blog award supported by Good Thinking
Best student science blog
 
The Dr Katharine Giles Award will enable the winners of these awards to undertake a one day media skills training course run by the Royal Society.  The fund will only be available for scientists who are not professional journalists, if the winner of either category is a professional journalist or writer then the fund will be offered to runners-up who meet the criteria.
 
Winners of the awards will be contacted in order to make arrangements for them to undertake the media skills course run by the Royal Society.   There is no obligation for winners to undertake the course.
 
Although this is a new Award the offer of media training has already been made to the winners of the 2015 Awards and the winners of the science blog award supported by Good Thinking, and best student science blog award, will undertake the media skills course run by the Royal Society next year.
 
The ABSW would like to thank the mother of Dr Katharine Giles, Dorrie Giles for making this Award possible.

Member Login

Go to top