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The WFSJ’ 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place during the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ2017) in San Francisco, US.

The AGM will take place from 12:00pm to 2:00pm (Pacific Time Zone), Saturday, October 28th at Salon 13-14, The Marriott Marquis.

All members of the ABSW are invited to attend the AGM as observers, however we need to inform our colleagues at the Federation of your name and email address.   If you would like to attend please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by close of play Thursday 19 October 2017 and we can pass the information to the Federation.

Copies of the agenda and papers for the AGM are also available on request, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

All ABSW members have now been sent this message from ABSW Chair Mico Tatalovic:

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to let you know about an exciting initiative through which you can help shape the future of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) – and science journalism in the UK more widely.

The ABSW board has decided to carry out an independent strategic review of our association to see how we can improve what we do. Specifically, we want to see how we can improve what we offer to you, our members, and to make sure that our governance structures and funding streams are following best practices and are in line with ensuring the long-term sustainability of the ABSW.

As part of this review, we will be carrying out a survey of our members to see what you think of the ABSW. For example, what works and doesn’t work for you, which activities you take part in, and which activities you’d like to see in future. We want you to have a say in how the association moves forward. You can expect to get the short survey over the next few weeks, and we hope you can share your thoughts and feelings about the ABSW, and advise us on where we can improve.

How to set up local groups: The Bristol science book group by Board member Andy Extance

The ABSW board has been discussing regional activities, and has become aware of the existence of a couple of loosely affiliated book groups. That’s mostly because I’m a member of one, based in Bristol. This is our story – you may want to copy it, or write in (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and share the story of your own group on the ABSW site.

Legend has it that the Bristol science book group originated after a discussion between our founder, Jon Turney, and another ABSW member who has never actually come to our group. We’ve been running since 2010, after Jon solicited for interest on the ABSW list. Since then membership has waxed and waned as people have become aware of it through informal channels. 

Andy Extance reports back on the ABSW Media Law training and asks for your thoughts on further training for ABSW members:

The ABSW media law training course had 12 attendees on Monday (25 September 2017) from an interesting cross-section of our membership - as far afield as York and Exeter (me), and with backgrounds ranging from staffers whose publications recognised the value group bargaining can provide to freelancers topping up their knowledge. Among many interesting points, two stuck out for me: 

A libel case verdict this month involving a French aerospace engineer seems to have put the UK libel law back to as bad as it was before it was changed in 2013. The case sees the judge's verdict on the new test for 'serious harm' that was added in the reformed Defamation Act say that libel claimants need not actually prove that any serious harm was caused. See more at the Press Gazette.

BBC's science correspondent and the ABSW's Honorary President, Pallab Ghosh,  has been hailed for his 'wonderfully enthusiastic' solar eclipse commentary.  The Evening Standard picked up the story after viewers took to twitter to praise Pallab's 'childlike excitement'.

You can view Pallab's coverage of the eclipse for BBC News at Six and read the full story here:

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/bbcs-science-correspondent-hailed-for-his-very-enthusiastic-solar-eclipse-commentary-a3616941.html

Dear Member Associations,

The WFSJ is pleased to announce the results of the 2017 Executive Board Election.

Out of a total of 55 Member Associations, 42 (76 %) casted their vote of which 38 (69 %) were eligible. Four (4) votes were considered ineligible either because they were cast after the deadline or because the associations hadn’t paid the WFSJ’s membership fee in the past years.

The four candidates with the highest number of votes are:

Full profiles of all candidates can be viewed here.

The four new Board Members will effectively occupy their international positions on the WFSJ’s Executive Board as of Sunday, October 29th, at the end of the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ2017) in San Francisco. Congratulations!

The WFSJ wishes to thank all nine candidates for sending in their application, as well as the Member Associations that voted and made this election possible and transparent.

The Board Election Nomination Committee
Dominique Forget & Mohammed Yahia


New Canadian Board Member Joins WFSJ’s Board in October 2017

The WFSJ is happy to announce the nomination of Mr. Tim Lougheed as new Executive Board Member. Mr. Lougheed is nominated by the two Canadian associations to replace Ms. Dominique Forget, who has served on the WFSJ’s Executive Board for two terms.

A full-time freelance writer and editor since 1991, Tim Lougheed has written hundreds of articles for specialized and general publications in Canada as well as internationally. He also edits Canadian Chemical News, a magazine published by the Chemical Institute of Canada.

He is the current president of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada, a national organization with more than 600 members across the country. His career began as a reporter with the Windsor Star and the Sault Star, then as a science writer for Queen’s University. He has degrees from the University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, and Queen’s University.

Read a more detailed resume of our new Canadian Board Member here.


The WFSJ is looking forward to working with Mr. Tim Lougheed as well as with the other Board Members to create a continues, dynamic and positive impact on science journalism around the world.

 

By ABSW Board member Andy Extance

Last month the excellent Open Notebook carried an interview with Hakai magazine news editor Colin Schulz, where he made a remark that caught my attention as a freelance science writer:

"When I was a writer I—like many writers—was terrified of pitching. But now that I’m an editor, I get to see the other side of it. And it’s not what I expected. I’m friends with a bunch of editors, and there’s a gripe that many of us share: We don’t get enough pitches. I don’t just mean excellent, stellar, award-winning pitches. I mean pitches."

I've seen other editors complain about this too, notably Oli Franklin-Wallis, features editor at Wired UK on Twitter. I therefore asked members of the ABSW what their experience was.

Hester van Santen, a science journalist for NRC media in the Netherlands has won this year's European Science Writer of the Year Award.

Hester was chosen from the fifteen nominees from throughout Europe and will attend the ABSW Awards Ceremony in London next week (Thu 25 May) to collect her certificate and cash prize.

On announcing the award the judging panel said: 

"In her submission, Hester has demonstrated her ability to be at ease with both popular science formats and more investigative type pieces. Her work is remarkably well researched regardless of the format or audience targeted and is full of creativity with a great range of interviews. Hester's best submission is undoubtedly the article about peer review, which represents a great case study of a big problem affecting science." 

Candidate's were assessed on three pieces of work and all were nominated by organisations representing science journalists and writers from throughout Europe. Hester was nominated by VWN the Dutch association for science journalism and communication.

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