ABSW News

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.

And the winners are…..

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 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

Best news item

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

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

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):

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

Best investigative journalism

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

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

Best newcomer

Faye Kirkland, Freelance

Best student science blog

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

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.

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

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

Winner

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

Runner-up

The Young Scientists Journal, Herts and Essex High School

Lifetime Achievement Award 2016

Deborah Cohen, Editor BBC Radio Science Unit

                                                                                              

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.
The ABSW has now received three formal complaints under its ‘Professional Conduct’ clause in the standing orders (standing order 16).
 
Before outlining the actions taken by the Board in response to these complaints the Board would like to provide some context to this unprecedented situation.
 
As stated on our website, the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) exists to help those who write about science and technology, and to improve the standard of science journalism in the UK. We are an association of science writers, journalists, broadcasters and science-based communications professionals.
 
Founded in 1947, the ABSW has provided science journalists with networking, training, gossip, opportunities and jobs for over 60 years. We aim to promote the highest standards of journalism and writing by encouraging flair and bravery. We also hope to foster a mutually supportive community and to provide an environment for new ideas to develop and flourish. 
 
Through debates and events, our discussion group and our science writing awards we help to create links between science writers, their subjects and markets.
 
The ABSW is neither a professional body, nor a trade union and does not see its primary role as taking action against our members with regards to their daily work as writers, journalists or broadcasters.  However our standing orders do allow for a complaints procedure, the relevant standing order 16 reads as follows:
 
Professional Conduct
 
16. Members of the Association are expected to observe the highest professional standards. Wilful or frequent misrepresentation or inaccuracy, wilful breach of confidence, or behaviour in any way prejudicial to the interest of the public in accurate scientific reporting, or of the professional interests of the membership of the Association, shall be considered in breach of these standards.
 
A member against whom a formal complaint of infringement of this rule is laid shall be invited to meet the Executive Board, which will meet with at least five members present. A copy of the written complaint shall be communicated to the respondent at least three weeks before the hearing. An adequate record shall be kept of the hearing. The Executive Board has the power to warn, suspend or expel the member complained against. A written statement of the reasons for any suspension or expulsion shall be made to members of the Association at or before the next AGM of the Association.
 
A formal complaint must be in writing and duly signed by the complainant. If the complaint originates from within the Association, it shall be signed by not fewer than three members.
 
The ABSW has no other means by which to deal with complaints, there is no ‘informal’ procedure and The Board should not and cannot take action against any of our members without there being a formal complaint brought under this clause.  It would be entirely inappropriate for the Board to decide to initiate some kind of enquiry into a member in any other way other than through the procedure as outlined in our standing orders.   The Board hopes that all members consider how they would like to be treated if subject to complaint and that they would expect the Board to adhere to the procedures outlined in our standing orders.
 
As the ABSW has no previous experience of any complaint being brought against a member The Board has had to consider how this standing order works in practice.  After considerable discussion the Board considers the following as an appropriate way by which to implement the complaints procedure.
 
The Board considers that normally a complaint would be received by the ABSW and that this complaint would not be made public until both the Board and the subject of the complaint had been notified.   Clearly a complaint could be seriously prejudicial to a member of the ABSW and to publish it without any recourse to rebuttal by the subject of the complaint would be wrong.  The Board would then consider the complaint requesting further details from the subject of the complaint where necessary in order to decide if the complaint warrants further action under standing order 16.   The Board does not believe that any complaint received should automatically trigger action under standing order 16, each complaint must be considered on its merit. The Board hopes that members will understand the potential serious consequences for any member who is taken through the formal process of standing order 16.  If the complaint is not taken forward then it would be for the Board and the subject of the complaint to decide if they wished the matter to be made public.   If the complaint is taken forward through the formal processes of standing order 16 then the standing orders make it quite clear that:
 
An adequate record shall be kept of the hearing. The Executive Board has the power to warn, suspend or expel the member complained against. A written statement of the reasons for any suspension or expulsion shall be made to members of the Association at or before the next AGM of the Association. 
 
If the Board decides to take no action at this stage again it would be for the Board and the subject of the complaint to decide what details are made public.
 
The Board considers the above process to be the most practical, fair and appropriate way to deal with complaints regarding its members both in terms of taking the complaint seriously and in terms of its duty of care to its members.
 
However in the case of the three complaints received by the Board these have already been made public by the complainant:
 
 
 
So in the case of these three complaints the Board can no longer adhere to the processes it would consider practical, fair and appropriate as outlined above.
 
The complaints received by the Board are as follows:
 
Complaint by Louise Mensch (non-member) against Connie St Louis, ABSW full member and Board member
 
Complaint by Louise Mensch (non-member) against Martin Ince, ABSW full member, President and Board member
 
Complaint by Louise Mensch (non-member) against Bob Ward ABSW associate member, and co-opted Board member 
 
All three complaints relate in some way to the reporting of comments made by Sir Tim Hunt. 
 
All three individuals have been informed of the complaints against them and are aware of the content of the complaints.
 
The Board met to consider all three complaints with a view to deciding if further action was warranted under standing order 16.   
 
Board member Connie St Louis did not take part in this meeting of the Board and Board members Bob Ward and Martin Ince took no part in the discussion of the complaints relating to them.
 
Five members of the Board felt that they had a conflict of interest and so recused themselves from participating in the consideration of the formal complaint against Connie St Louis. In addition, Bob Ward indicated that he did not wish to participate in any potential process under Standing Order 16 about the professional conduct of an ABSW member as he is an Associate Member of the ABSW and is not a journalist. It was agreed that the three remaining Board members would consider the complaint and decide whether it warranted being taken forward to a hearing as described in standing order 16. Should that be the case, those three board members would then decide who to co-opt from the ABSW membership, taking into account their experience and conflicts of interest, to make up a committee of five individuals minimum (as required in standing order 16).
 
Connie St Louis was informed of this decision.
 
The remaining Board members considered the complaint against Connie St Louis separately and the result is reported later in this statement.
 
In the case of the complaints against Bob Ward and Martin Ince these were considered by the Board (with Martin Ince and Bob Ward not present) as the members present did not feel clear conflicts of interest in making a decision on whether the complaints should be taken forward.
 
Complaint against Martin Ince:
 
The Board considered that complaint against Martin Ince was incoherent and relied on spurious distinctions.  The complaint was not about his ‘professional writing’ but about statements made on behalf of the Board and agreed by the Board.  The Board’s statement regarding Tim Hunt not contesting Connie St Louis’ reporting related to the accuracy of the original tweet, not to any differences in opinion on context or intent.
 
The Board did not consider this complaint needed further action under standing order 16.
 
Complaint against Bob Ward:
 
With regard to the complaint against Bob Ward it was considered this related to tweeting in a private capacity not to reporting in any professional capacity.  The Board considered that the tweets referred to in the complaint were made due to him being a co-opted member of the Board i.e.: asking Louise Mensch to email him direct and referencing emails to him as a Board member. It was considered that Bob Ward was doing this in the public interest i.e.: for clarity around ABSW procedures and processes.  (At the time there was considerable misinformation around whether or not the Board had in fact received an official complaint and the process by which to make a complaint). It was considered that the tweets in question were part of a conversation rather than a report and did not prejudice the professional standards of the ABSW. 
 
The Board concluded that the substance of the complaint against Bob Ward was misplaced and that no further action was needed under standing order 16.
 
Bob Ward and Martin Ince have been informed of the decision of the Board regarding these complaints.
 
Those Board members who had not recused themselves from participating in the consideration of the formal complaint against Connie St Louis examined the complaint against her separately.  The outcome is reported here:
 
The Board members considering the complaint (referred to in this statement as the ‘Board subgroup’ or ‘subgroup’) would like to point out that the ABSW is not watchdog for science journalism. The purpose of standing order 16 is to provide a mechanism for the ABSW to uphold professional standards among its members and no more. 
Also, standing order 16 cannot and should not function as a primary means for complaining about the substance of a member's journalism or professional conduct. Rather, the ABSW expects that any serious complaint about a member's journalism or conduct would have already been directed to the relevant media, regulator or law enforcement. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the ABSW assumes its members have complied with reasonable professional standards.
 
Standing order 16 also does not call for an 'investigation', which is what parts of the complaint invites the Board to do, and the Board reserves the right to look into whether the complaint warrants an action under standing order 16. The ABSW must treat its members and their professional interest and reputation with due care and consideration. 
The Board subgroup has decided that it is not minded to begin any action under standing order 16 for the following reasons:
 
1. Many of the points the complainant raises do not fit the subgroup’s view of "wilful or repeated" misrepresentation.
 
2.       The complainant does not offer clear evidence that Connie St Louis has done what the complainant accuses her of.  Among other things, the complainant draws conclusions from audio recordings that we do not deem to be decisive; and offers quotes that appear to tell against St Louis without any objective evidence to back them up. The Board subgroup do not consider this evidence sufficient to show that St Louis's has behaved in a way that violates the standards set out in standing order 16.
 
The Board subgroup also considers this complaint to be vexatious and submitted with the goal of smearing an individual rather than with a constructive goal of upholding journalistic quality. The Board subgroup says this because:
 
1. The complaint includes evidence and quotations used selectively. For instance, the complainant asserts that no other witnesses agree with St Louis's version of the start of Sir Tim's remarks when this is not the case. Indeed, many other eyewitnesses appear to do so, as evidenced in a recent article: https://medium.com/@danwaddell/saving-tim-hunt-97db23c6ee93 
 
2.      The complainant has brought up matters that would most sensibly be addressed first and foremost through other channels. For instance, if the complainant considers the Today programme to be inaccurate a complaint to the BBC would be the obvious and sensible first step. Since the original reports have not been retracted in the media, the subgroup sees no reason to doubt their accuracy. Likewise, matters concerning St Louis' CV are not about journalistic standards. Rather they are matters for her employer - and indeed City University appears to be satisfied with her conduct. The subgroup has no reason to believe otherwise and it would not be appropriate for the ABSW to comment on this matter further.
 
The Board subgroup would also like to make it clear that this decision not to uphold the complaint should not be wrongly interpreted as a judgment either way on any of the individual points. Rather, the Board subgroup are saying that they have no credible evidence that Ms St Louis misrepresented anything, and so are not minded to begin any formal procedure under standing order 16.
 
Lastly, we would like to reaffirm the ABSW’s support for any member to report on controversial and politically sensitive issues in a free manner and without fear of reprisals, internet trolling or character assassinations.
 
 
On June 30, 2015 the Board of the Association of British Science Writers issued a statement concerning Connie St Louis, a member of the ABSW and its Board. The statement was published in response to personal attacks on Ms St Louis, including an article in the ‘Daily Mail’ on 27 June and associated online comments. Ms St Louis has been the subject of personal attacks, bigoted insults and abuse as a result of her reporting of remarks by Sir Tim Hunt at a lunch event on ‘Women in Science’ at the World Conference of Science Journalists on 8 June in Seoul. 
 
As its timing suggests, the Board’s statement was intended to convey its support for Connie St Louis against the abuse she has received and against attempts to discredit her professionally. Our statement was not a specific endorsement of Ms St Louis’s reporting of Sir Tim’s comments. However, this clarification should not be wrongly interpreted as an indication that the Board has any specific concerns about Ms St Louis’s reporting or professional conduct. All of our members are assumed to comply with the Standing Orders of the ABSW, including Standing Order 16 on professional conduct.
 
Sir Colin Blakemore, the former Honorary President of the ABSW, has asked the Board to make clear that he condemns the abuse to which Connie St Louis has been subjected, and that the ABSW Board’s previous statement regarding his resignation should not be misinterpreted as indicating otherwise. The Board is happy to do so with this statement.
 
There have been claims that the ABSW Board has refused to investigate complaints about the professional conduct of Ms St Louis. These allegations are incorrect. The ABSW Board has a legal duty to uphold the Standing Orders of ABSW Ltd. However, as of 21 October 2015, the Board has not received any formal complaints against Ms St Louis. The Board is unable to initiate action under Standing Order 16 unless it receives a formal complaint.
 
Standing Order 16 states:
 
Professional Conduct
 
16. Members of the Association are expected to observe the highest professional standards. Wilful or frequent misrepresentation or inaccuracy, wilful breach of confidence, or behaviour in any way prejudicial to the interest of the public in accurate scientific reporting, or of the professional interests of the membership of the Association, shall be considered in breach of these standards.
 
A member against whom a formal complaint of infringement of this rule is laid shall be invited to meet the Executive Board, which will meet with at least five members present. A copy of the written complaint shall be communicated to the respondent at least three weeks before the hearing. An adequate record shall be kept of the hearing. The Executive Board has the power to warn, suspend or expel the member complained against. A written statement of the reasons for any suspension or expulsion shall be made to members of the Association at or before the next AGM of the Association.
A formal complaint must be in writing and duly signed by the complainant. If the complaint originates from within the Association, it shall be signed by not fewer than three members.
 
The ABSW would like to clarify that it is a Company Limited by Guarantee. This means that it has no share capital and pays no dividends. This is a standard form of organisation for UK bodies which exist for the public good rather than for profit. It pays no fees to its directors.
 
Our Standing Orders state:
 
Executive Board 3. The ABSW shall be managed by an Executive Board comprising a President , Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, who shall all be directors of the company, and a European Representative (who may be the President), plus up to seven other members elected at the AGM, and up to four co-opted members appointed under Standing Order 8.
 
Furthermore our Articles state:
 
Methods of appointing directors 17. – (1) Any member of the Association, who is willing to act as a director, and is permitted by law to do so, may be appointed to be a director– (a) by ordinary resolution at a General Meeting, or (b) by a decision of the directors both to fill a casual vacancy and to provide expertise not otherwise available
 
As is required by Companies House, we make an annual return listing our Directors.   We also update Companies House when Directors cease to serve or are appointed.   All these details are freely available through our listing with Companies House.
 
Our current Directors are:
 
Martin Ince (President)
Mico Tatalovic (Vice-President)
Victoria Parsons (Treasurer)
Wendy Grossman (Board member)
Connie St Louis (European Representative)

As stated in our previous post we have accepted with regret Sir Colin Blakemore’s resignation as honorary president of the ABSW, with thanks for his support and assistance over the years.  

A statement from the honorary president was requested by the ABSW board.

In the light of the Observer article of October 11, the board of the ABSW wishes to point out that the Association’s Standing Order 16 (published on this web site under About Us, Memorandum, Articles and Standing Orders) sets out the procedure for making a complaint about a member of the ABSW. It has not received the notification needed to start a case under this process, which involves a formal complaint in writing, but will of course act upon any such complaint it may receive.

 

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