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ABSW AGM 2014 - Agenda

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

ABSW Executive Board Elections: Candidates 2014

Nominations for the Executive Board 2014

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

Martin Ince

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

Connie St Louis

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

Mico Tatalovic

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

Wendy Grossman

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

Katharine Sanderson

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

Harriet Bailey

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

Beki Hill

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

ABSW Investigative Science Journalism Fellowship - Open for Applications

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


Martin Ince appointed Acting President of ABSW

Martin Ince was appointed acting President of the ABSW at this week's ABSW Board meeting.
Connie St Louis former President of the ABSW, tendered her resignation at the Board meeting as the demands of her PhD and full time post at City University would no longer allow her to fulfil the duties required of ABSW President. The standing orders of the ABSW allow for the Board to appoint an individual to act as President until a new President is elected and appointed at the AGM (27th March) and the Board appointed long standing Board member Martin Ince.   Martin also intends to stand as President in the forthcoming elections so that he may have the opportunity to continue in this role.
The Board are extremely grateful for all the work that Connie has done as ABSW President and there will be a great opportunity to thank her properly and celebrate all she has done at the AGM in March.

ABSW late Xmas Party

Join ABSW members at the traditional 'we missed the deadline' late Xmas Party.

Date: Wednesday 22 January 2014

Time: 19:00 onwards

Venue: The Somerstown Coffee House (close to Euston and Kings Cross)

Details:  There will be a small fund behind the bar and a light buffet (many thanks to Mun Keat Looi, ABSW party organiser)
Do hope you can join others from the ABSW to squeeze the very last out of the Festive season.

ABSW AGM Thursday 27 March 2014

The date of the ABSW AGM will be Thursday 27th March 2014.   Of course further reminders and details will follow but for those who like to forward plan then you can put this date in the diary.   It will be an evening meeting in London, venue tbc.   The AGM is a key meeting at which the members of the Board are elected and the President reports on the year's activities along with presentation of the accounts and a report from the ABSW auditors.

For more on the governance of the ABSW see the Memorandum, Articles and Standing Orders of the Association.


ABSW New Year Party 2013

We are pleased to announce that the ABSW New Year Party will be held on Monday 21st January 2013. Find out more...

Register to

Reminder: Special General Meeting / Seminars - 3rd May 2011


Please see below the text of the email which we are trying to send out to all ABSW members regarding the Special General Meeting to be held on 3rd May 2011, followed by a choice of 2 Seminars.

The attachments mentioned in the email will also be posted on this site seperately.  


Please see below the link to the Wufoo form whereby you can select your choice of Seminar, should you be able to attend.


Email from Connie St Louis (Chair): 

Register to

Important notice to all ABSW members

Important notice to all ABSW members

Friday, 21st January 2011

We have finally succeeded in establishing a new company called ABSW Ltd alongside the old ABSW, which as you may recall is an unincorporated body without limited liability, as instructed by the 2010 AGM. Now we come to the tricky bit.

The old ABSW has a constitution about members, officers etc which has been refined over the years. But the articles of association of the new firm are a standard piece of boilerplate about directors’ duties, quorum for the meetings, etc. They make no reference to the members or the executive and put all power in the hands of the directors, Connie and Natasha.

The new company is limited by guarantee so it cannot distribute any profits. We may choose to reform it as a Community Interest Company, but rest assured that the final structure will definitely be some form of non-profit setup in which all our money is used to develop science journalism.

I have agreed to think about how we get the new company into the shape it needs to be in to meet our needs, and I need your help. I don’t (at the moment) want any detailed legal or constitutional advice, although I would be glad to hear from anyone who is an aficionado in this area. Instead, I want to know what you want from the new-style ABSW.

At the moment we have a distinguished president (Colin Blakemore), a committee, some statutory officers such as the chair, vice chair and treasurer, and whatever ad hoc posts (events, student liaison) we feel like. We have an AGM and about half a dozen executive meetings per year. It is tempting to replicate this setup in the new structure, but is it what we want? Our aim is to advance science journalism, for the benefit of the profession and of the public. We now do this in a very different way from in the past, for example via the UKCSJ and online and via social media. We are more of a network organisation: how should our structure reflect this? What about our membership categories (full, student, associate etc)?

So – how much of our past way of doing things meets our needs and should be kept, and how much innovation is needed? Most importantly for me, how do the members get to be involved and feel part of everything?

I need your input on this and would be grateful for any thoughts, to the list or to me as below.

We need to crack on with this as I am going to report to the Executive on January 31. Let me have your ideas this month please. My replies may be a little slow as I shall be on jury service, so be sure not to commit any crime in South London for a few weeks.



Martin Ince, Committee, ABSW

Draft minutes ABSW AGM 2010

Dear Member,

in advance of the 2011 ABSW AGM, the Association is publishing the draft minutes of the 2010 AGM. These will be finalised and approved by members on the 17th January.

Natasha Loder, Chair, ABSW

Draft minutes ABSW AGM 2010

Cancer Research UK, Lincoln's Inn Fields

Tuesday, 26th January

Called to order about 18:30

Minutes: Wendy Grossman


Timandra Harkness, Colin Blakemore, Wendy Barnaby, Jeremy Webb, Richard Hollingham, Claire Gilby


Andy Extance, Natasha Loder, Martin Ince, Sunny Bains, Ian Adamson, Kat Arney, David Dickson, Patrick Walter, Anna Lacey, Mike Nagle, Bob Ward, John Bonner, Asher Mullard, Diane Stilwell, Wendy Grossman, Susan Aldridge, Katrina Megget, Anna Lewcock, Kellye Curtis, Barbie Drillsma, MK Looi, Brian Owens, Paul Rodgers, Chris Cooper, Simon Levey, Connie St Louis, Godze Zorhu, Richard van Noorden, Julie Clayton, Zoe Corbyn, Paul Sutherland, Tim Watson, Chrissie Giles and one illegible.

Minutes 2009

The 2009 minutes are lost, so can't be approved. Noted that Ted's report 2009 was accepted.

Ted Nield's report for the first  half of 2009 was accepted. Ted stepped down as chair in mid-2009 and Natasha Loder was co-opted as Acting Chair.

Review of 2009

At the beginning of 2009 the ABSW's finances seemed to be in perilous state. The World Conference, which it was hoped would provide some profits, looked like it might lose money. Prior to co-option, Natasha and Ted made a number of changes intended to secure the ABSW's future. First and foremost of these was recognizing that  the ABSW could no longer afford to pay for a permanent part-time administrator, and Barbie Drillsma agreed to take redundancy. Some of her former work has been automated via the new Web site; other elements have been taken over by committee members; the ABSW will pay for a small amount of administrative worth about 20% of its income. In the event, the ABSW received about £40,000 as its share of the profits of the World Conference which makes it solvent.

Natasha would like suggestions and ideas for how to move forward from here using this lump sump to launch other activities, particularly ones that may generate income.

Natasha gave out lifetime achievement awards at the Natural History Museum, partly as a test to see whether the concept of low-cost awards she had been working on with Sunny Bains was workable.

Highlights of the year:

- the WCSJ conference

- a joint debate with City University on libel law. The debate filled a 350-seat auditorium and was recorded by the BBC.

- the new Web site was launched in October. 15% of members have already uploaded their details, and it has dramatically reduced the amount of administration necessary.

- 50 new student members joined from City University

- in December the ABSW submitted evidence to the BIS group chaired by Fiona Fox on science in the media

- Sunny Bains has successfully revitalized The Science Reporter.

- successful regional events in Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge, and London.

- pay survey of members, no migrated to the Web site reading room under "guides".

- Moved the ABSW desk within the Dana Centre.

Voted thanks to Mike Nagle for revamping the Web site and Michael Kenward for having managed it for many years. Thanks for Colin Blakemore for arranging the Dana Centre hot desk.


Natasha was the only candidate for chair and was unanimously voted in.

Kat Arney was the only candidate for treasurer and was unanimously voted in.

Vice-chair is Jeremy Webb

Committee members are Bob Ward, Mike Nagle, Ted Nields, Caro Kelday, Barbie Drillsma, Wendy Grossman, Claire Gilby, Jacob Aron, Anna Lewcock, Chrissie Giles, Mike Nagle, Mun-Keat Looi, Richard Hollingham

Colin Blakemore was reelected for a second three-year term as president.


For personal reasons Martin Ince was unable to complete the accounts in time for auditing before the meeting, or to complete the 2010 budget. The latter will be prepared in collaboration with Kat and will be presented to the committee for review.

The accounts for 2007-2008 will be posted on the Web site, followed by the accounts for 2009.

In 2009 the ABSW took in 50% more in membership subscriptions than in 2008, with three bursts of new members: the world conference, the launch of the new Web site, and the student agreement with City University. Mike Nagle reported that 75 people have joined since October, of which 50 were students.

The World Conference paid ABSW approximately £40,000, plus some additional money was made from a book sale and £15,000 was paid to the ABSW for administration. The capital is currently in a savings account paying 3.5%.

Because the ABSW has cut costs steeply and because of the world conference the ABSW is now the most affluent it's been in more than 10 years. It is in a good position to expand activities – for example, by running a one-day summer conference.

Martin noted that the ABSW has never had any formal legal structure but believes that with financial resources on this scale it is advisable to become a public trust company

- a cheaper way to incorporate that would still limit liability for officers and directors. Martin believes this is an important step if we are going to take on the risk of trying new activities.

The meeting voted for the change of status. Kat noted that the change would enable the ABSW to take direct debits, which was impossible as an unincorporated body.

Code of ethics

Some members have suggested the ABSW should adopt the code of ethics used by the US Society for Professional Journalists. It was asked why SPJ and not NUJ; Mike Harrison said the issue of respecting creators; moral rights should be included. Sunny Bains noted that professional standards and professional ethics are not the same thing. Bob Ward said it's necessary to be clear about the conditions under which someone's membership can be terminated – and that requires full consultation and possibly a change to the constitution. After much discussion it was felt that the idea needs further research. Wendy Grossman and Mike Harrison were coopted to form a committee to discuss it further and make recommendations.

A question of the constitutionality of elements of the proposal was raised. At this point it was discovered that the version of the constitution included in the agenda pack is not the current one, drafted and accepted while Toby Murcott was chair. It is therefore necessary to locate the current version of the constitution before settling this point.

Bob Ward noted that the constitution needs to be amended to allow emendations at SGMs as well as AGMs so it is not necessary to wait 12 months to make changes.


Proposals 1 and 2 were moot because of the previous vote.

Proposal 3 provoked some discussion. The meeting agreed that a committee is needed to consider the issues of the code of conduct, the constitution, and the articles of incorporation that will be necessary. Natasha would like to have a clause that allows the association to ask someone to leave in difficult situations involving abusive behavior.

The future

Natasha believes that although there may be a crisis in science journalism in the US in the UK the picture is more mixed: the number of jobs is stable, though freelance rates are static and many journalists are too overworked to get out of the office. The ABSW should think about what it can do to make lives better for journalists. She is optimistic that science journalists' status has increased in newsrooms, but believes the BIS report may not support the areas we would choose, such as helping investigative journalists.

With the help of Julie Clayton and Sallie Robins, Natasha has secured seed funding of £12,000 a year from Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical and research division for low-cost awards to run in 2010 through 2015. The arrangement will give Natasha three years to run the awards and then her successor two years to decide whether to renegotiate or continue on our own. There will be four or five prizes of £500 each, presented at a stand-up event limited to 100 people. Irish journalists will be included among those allowed to apply.

The funds the ABSW has now should be used as a "fighting fund" to be invested in things that will yield benefits in perpetuity or earn money. As an example, the committee have agreed to spend £5,000 to support a one-day conference in July that will be like a mini-WCSJ and include training, talks, and, in the evening, the awards presentation. Julie Clayton will organize this event.

In addition, the ABSW should support for example, the libel campaign, which will deliver something we all need and want: sensible libel laws.

Another key initiative is securing access for members to the scientific literature, something that is now difficult especially for freelances.

Finally, Natasha hopes during her tenure to start a fellowship scheme that would provide a journalist with sufficient funds to take a month off from their regular journalism job to do investigative journalism.

Other business, matters arising

Julie Clayton is asking members who may be interested in attending the one-day conference to sign up to register their interest and help her build up a mailing list. The tentative date, July 23, will be confirmed after a visit to the venue in a couple of weeks. Julie would like to he2ar from any members willing to serve on the programme committee.  Julie thanked Bob, Barbie, Simon, and Martin for their help.

Mike Nagle noted that all Web content can be private or public, users can change their own details and join and/or pay online, and there are integrated external blogs, RSS feeds of everything the ABSW publishes, job listings, and a jointly edited committee area.

Vote of heartfelt thanks to Michael Kenward.

Congratulations to Peter Briggs, who was awarded an OBE in the New Year's honours list.

Peter Briggs and Peter Cooper were appointed auditors for the coming year.

There was a discussion of the jobs listing policy on ABSW-L, which currently cost £50. The meeting voted to remove the charge (losing approximately £300 to £400 a year in income) and to reconsider the matter should providing such listings free of charge become a problem.

Sunny Bains asked if it was possible to automatically link jobs from the list to the Web site job section for those who do not have time to read the list. Mike Nagle said it was technically too difficult but that members can get an RSS feed of the Web site job listing.

Life memberships were voted for Michael Kenward, Barbie Drillsma, and Rick Stevenson.

Wendy Grossman noted that the committee reviewing the constitution, the code of ethics, and the articles of incorporation will need to consider what the position of bloggers and other non-traditional journalists should be in the ABSW.

Meeting closed at 8pm.

Can you RELATE to this? Research Labs for Teaching Journalists experience

Over the past two years a European Union project has taken 80 journalism students and early-career journalists for one-week courses visiting research labs across Europe.

I was lucky enough to take part in the last cohort of journalists sent to universities in either Paris or Bologna. I joined a group of four journalists travelling to the latter.

The RELATE (Research Labs for Teaching Journalists Experience) project promised to bring journalists face-to-face with cutting edge research and provide open access to some of Europe’s best researchers. All that journalists had to do in exchange was to write daily blogs about their experiences and submit a single piece of work (article, podcast or video) for publication (here's mine).

RELATE did deliver on its promise of contact with researchers (sometimes in excess, with some researchers really keen to talk about their work for a long, long time...). But what it failed to do was to offer any kind of on-site training whatsoever. Anyone can talk to (read: listen to) a scientist about their work, but a skill of a journalist is to know which questions to ask and how to do it.

Read more: Can you RELATE to this? Research Labs for Teaching Journalists experience
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