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Multimedia from the First UK Conference of Science Journalists



Friday 23 July, Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, London

filmSessions with multimedia. Most of this material is available to ABSW members only.



Opening Plenary

ClimateGate: Were Journalists Asleep at the Wheel? 

The plenary will explore how the story surrounding the leaked e-mails at University of East Anglia played out, examining the relationship between scientists and science journalists, and between science journalists and their news desk/editors.

Speakers: Myles Allen (University of Oxford), Tom Clarke (C4 News), Oliver Morton (The Economist), James Randerson (The Guardian), Professor Robert Watson (Chief Scientific Advisor, DEFRA). Chair: Gabrielle Walker (writer, broadcaster).

film Multimedia: Video & podcasts


Parallel sessions

The Future of Genomics

The cost of sequencing a human genome has plummeted from hundreds of thousands of dollars to about $20k today.  In parallel, there has been an explosion of ‘genotyping’ services that scan your genome and interpret the results for a few hundred dollars.  In this session, attendees will hear from experts across this spectrum about the stories that are likely to emerge in the coming year, from cancer research to ethics and of course personal genomics.  Sponsor: Oxford Nanopore Technologies, developing a new generation of DNA analysis technology. Personal genome testing kits have kindly been provided by,, and

Speakers: Mark Henderson, Science Editor, The Times. Daniel Macarthur, renowned blogger and researcher at the UK’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre. Dr Christine Patch, Chair, British Society for Human Genetics and Consultant Genetic Counsellor and Manager, Guy’s Hospital, London. Dr James Brenton, Cancer Research UK. Alison Hall, Project Manager, Law and Policy, PHG Foundation.

Introduction to personal genomics; Genetic counselling; Personal experiences: panel presentations and discussion; Future applications of personal genetic information – what will the future stories be? Focus on Cancer; Legal and social implications of personal genomics; Journalist resources.

filmMultimedia: Video & podcasts

Meet the Editors

One of the most popular sessions held at last year’s WCSJ will see commissioning editors meeting freelancers and other journalists to outline their editorial priorities and direction.

Speakers: Robin McKie (Observer); Kim Shillinglaw (BBC); Graham Lawton (New Scientist), Mark Peplow (Nature), David Rowan (Wired UK), John Travis (Science-International). Chair: Jacqui Thornton (freelance journalist).

film Multimedia: mp3

Straight Statistics

Numbers and statistics can easily confuse - sometimes deliberately, often by accident. Averages can be chosen to prove a point, targets selected so they can't be missed, random clusters of events given a significance they don't deserve, and corrections for confounding either ignored or used to draw conclusions where none are justified. Nigel Hawkes provides examples of all these statistical tricks and explains how to avoid being taken in by them

Speakers: Nigel Hawkes (Straight Statistics)

Nigel Hawkes is a science and health journalist. He graduated from Oxford with a degree in metallurgy in 1966, and has written about science, health and international affairs in a career that began on the staff of Nature and included long spells at The Observer (1972-90) and The Times (1990-2008). He retired from The Times in 2008 after eight years as Health Editor, and is now a columnist for British Medical Journal and Director of a new pressure group, Straight Statistics, which campaigns for the honest presentation and use of statistical data by government, media, and others.

He has written a number of books, including Structures, a book about building and civil engineering, and more than 40 science and technology titles for children and teenagers. He was appointed CBE in 1998 for services to the newspaper industry and science, and was the Medical Journalists Association health writer of the year in 2007.

filmMultimedia: mp3 


Creative feature writing

How to write compelling features that will keep readers hooked. Learn the secrets of creative writing with James Meek and Graham Lawton.

Speakers: Graham Lawton (Features Editor, New Scientist), James Meek ;(British Writer and Journalist). Chair - Alok Jha (Guardian).

filmMultimedia: mp3 


Peer Review

How can journalists be constructive critiques of peer review? What role do bloggers have in creating their own form of peer review?

Speakers: Peter Aldhous (New Scientist), Philip Campbell (Nature), Brian Deer (freelance investigative reporter), Fiona Godlee (Editor, BMJ), Tracey Brown (Director, Sense About Science). Chair: Connie St.Louis (City University).

filmMultimedia: Video & Podcasts

Multiplatform working

Multiplatform working is now a reality for all so a session has been programmed to explore the many different ways in which ‘stories’ can now be published.  What are the success stories, what are the pitfalls?  With this rush to multiplatform working have basic creative skills been forgotten?

Speakers so far: Andy Bull (author of "Multimedia Journalism"), Richard Hollingham (freelance science journalist and radio presenter) Lisa Sargood
(Multiplatform Commissioning Executive, BBC Vision), Stuart Arnott (Director, Spark). Chair: Connie St.Louis (City University)

filmMultimedia: mp3


Business as usual?

What does recent research say about science journalism in the UK, is it business as usual or have a new breed of science journalists established a ‘new science journalism’ in the blogosphere? Who is right in the heated debate over whether bloggers are journalists and has the distinction between blogging and journalism become a meaningless and semantic debate in the internet age? Do the changes in science reporting herald a new golden age for accuracy or the triumph of bad science? 


Martin Bauer (LSE)

Andy Williams (Cardiff University)

Andy Williams is the RCUK Research Fellow in Risk, Health and Science Communication. He has a number of research interests which intersect journalism studies and cultural studies. His current major research interests relate to news sources and the influence of public relations on the UK media, especially in the area of science, health and environment news.

Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Fiona Fox (Science Media Centre)

Chair: Pallab Ghosh (BBC)

Read Bauer’s report ‘The sense of crisis among science journalists’ (PDF)
Read Williams' report 'Mapping science journalism' (PDF)

filmMultimedia: Video & Podcasts

Closing Plenary

Is free news killing good science journalism?

The Times and Sunday Times online should be sat behind a pay wall by the time of the UKCSJ.  Other UK national newspapers are, for the time being, sticking with the free model.  But is the free model sustainable, and what effect has free access, and the 24 hour news cycle had on standards in science reporting.  Should good journalism be ‘given away’ or does quality always come at a price?

Speakers: George Brock (City University) Martin Robbins (The Lay Scientist)  Joanna Geary (Web Development Editor, The Times). Chair: Jeremy Webb (Editor-in-Chief, New Scientist).

filmMultimedia: Video & Podcasts

Other events on the day

Podcasting practical session

Delegates will be briefed on how to podcast and then get straight down to the job of creating a podcast based on UKCSJ sessions. This session needs to be pre-booked and will entail you working throughout the day and missing some sessions in order to undergo briefing and feedback.

Trainer/Session leader: Richard Scrase

Podcasts produced by session participants:

1. UKCSJ Podcast Original, A five-minute podcast with interviews with conference presenters including journalists from New Scientist and The Observer. This podcast is the work of course podcast students: Alison Cooper, Glenys Jones, Ann McGauran and Marion Daker.

2. Two of the students on the course have re-edited the raw material.

Alison Cooper's podcast.


ABSW's 2010 Science Writing Awards

Winners and shortlisted entrants can be found here. Photographs from the event are on the ABSW's Facebook page.


Session filming, editing and multimedia, Bruce Hopkins.

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