ABSW News

The Scholarships are now closed to entry - we hope to inform individuals of their success or otherwise at early on in the week beginning Mon 26 June

The Association of British Science Writers is pleased to offer a limited number of free student places to the ABSW Science Journalism Summer School on Wednesday 5 July 2017 at The Wellcome Trust, London. To apply you must currently be in full time education within the UK. 

Closing date for entries is noon on Friday 23 June 2017

The scholarship covers your registration fee and pre-agreed travel and accommodation costs only. If you are eligible, you will also receive one year's student membership of the Association of British Science Writers.

If you have already registered and paid for the Summer School and/or already paid for student membership of the ABSW you may still apply for the scholarship and this sum will be refunded to you if you receive a scholarship.

If you are not successful but still wish to attend the Summer School a place will automatically have been held for you so you do not lose out on a place at the Summer School by applying for the scholarship.

Apply for a student scholarship

The scholarships are possible due to support from Taylor & Francis Group.

Report by ABSW board member Andy Extance

Following a letter signed by the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) and other organisations, the UK government has clarified that ‘purdah’ rules should not restrict commentary from university academics.

The clarification follows a notice from Research Councils UK that it must ‘avoid competition with parliamentary candidates for the attention of the public’ in the run-up to the country’s election on June 8. The same notice also advises scientists not to highlight their research council funding and to delay publishing press releases about research-council funded work until after the election.

Science journalists have found that these and other instructions have had an unduly chilling effect. The letter, written by the Science Media Centre, highlights several examples where scientists had inappropriately declined to talk to the media. Those examples include subjects such as a new study on climate change, the current UK drought, and the government’s draft air quality plan.

Winners announced ABSW Science Writers' Awards for Great Britain and Ireland

The winners of the 2017 Association of British Science Writers’ (ABSW) Awards for Great Britain and Ireland were announced at an Awards Ceremony tonight (Thursday 25 May) in London.  

Two hundred and twenty-eight entries were considered by the independent panel of science journalists and science communicators who 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.  

The evening was hosted by Pallab Ghosh, Honorary President of the ABSW, and Science Correspondent at the BBC.   Aoife Pauley, Head of Corporate Media, EMEA, presented the Awards on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the Award sponsors.

At the ABSW AGM held last night (Thursday 30 March) Pallab Ghosh, Science Correspondent at the BBC and a former Chair of the ABSW was appointed Honorary President.

On his appointment Pallab said: "The ABSW is a force for good and I look forward to helping the Chair and the Executive Board in any way I can to promote our values of clear, critical and challenging science journalism. In a world where so much well-funded science propaganda is produced by so many vested interests to suit their own agendas, our profession is needed now more than ever. It is needed to help people make informed choices about their lives and to show them how science shapes the world around them and how they might influence that change."

The AGM saw Martin Ince departing as former President of the ABSW's Executive Board and Mico Tatalovic of New Scientist being elected. Martin will remain on the Board for a further year in the postition of Treasurer so will still be very much involved in the organisation.

Meet your new Executive Board

Other news from the AGM:

The standing orders were amended to change the title of President of the ABSW to its former title of Chair of the ABSW, amendments were also made so that Life Members can stand for election.   

Martin Ince was awarded Life Membership of the ABSW for all he has done during his time as President.

Pete Wrobel and Michael Kenward were appointed for a further year as Honorary Auditors.

The minutes will be posted in due course but will of course require approval at next year's AGM.

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing your proposed Executive Board

All posts on the Executive Board are elected annually at the AGM. Nominations opened on 1 February 2017 and closed on 1 March 2017.  The following individuals stood for election and as there are no contested posts, their nominations will be taken to the AGM for ratification.

The opportunity of a spare place on the EUSJA trip to Berlin for Science Week and the Falling Walls conference came up with less than 24 hours' notice, which is why I was sent to take advantage.

The trip included around 20 journalists from across Europe: I spotted people from Spain, Finland, Russia, and Estonia on the first day, when we were given a tour of three of Berlin's scientific establishments.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do get in touch if you have any queries.

Thanks

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

European Science Writer of the Year 2016

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best feature

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

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

Best news item

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

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

Best scripted/edited television programme or online video

Joint Winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best investigative journalism

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

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

The NUJ Stephen White Award for best communication and reporting of science in a non science context.   This Award is made in memory of Stephen White a highly influential science communicator who sadly died in 2010.   The Award is possible due to a donation from Stephen’s widow Elizabeth.

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

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

Best newcomer

Faye Kirkland, Freelance

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

Faye Kirkland receives her award from Seema Kumar

Best student science blog

Sophie McManus receives her Award from Seema Kumar and Martin Ince

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winner

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

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

Runner-up

The Young Scientists Journal, Herts and Essex High School

Lifetime Achievement Award 2016

Winner: Deborah Cohen, Editor BBC Radio Science Unit

Deborah Cohen and Georgina Ferry, ABSW Awards Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

                                                                                              

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