The 2021 ABSW Awards shortlist was announced in April and the winners were announced at an Awards Ceremony at the Science Journalism Summer School on Thursday 08 July.  The Awards highlights reel will be available w/c 02 August.

Editor of the Year

Ben DEIGHTON, SciDev.Net

Fiona GODLEE, The BMJ

Nigel PRAITIES, the Pharmaceutical Journal

Winner: Fiona GODLEE, The BMJ

The judges said: 

"This editor achieved the ultimate accolade of creating editorial that drove a dramatic U-turn in government policy. They took an immediate decision to provide all covid-related content freely to the whole world,  and most important, took the time for relevant information and treatment evaluations to reach doctors down from years to weeks, including  partnerships with US labs to help research rush through at preprint stage. There was nothing more that anyone could ask for the title of Editor of the Year. Vision, creativity, leadership, execution and impact were all there in abundance."


British Science Journalist of the Year 

Tom CHIVERS, UnHerd

Clive COOKSON, Financial Times

Nicola DAVIS, The Guardian

Special mention: Chrissie Giles, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Winner: Tom Chivers, UnHerd

The judges said: 

"It’s so tough to make statistics sexy. The winner has a good try at it. They stylishly introduce us to the possibilities and pitfalls of a topic we have all become hooked on – disease modelling."


Feature of the Year - general audience

Natalie HEALEY, Extreme cold is bringing humans back from the brink of death, freelance for WIRED UK

Amit KATWALA, Inside big tech’s high-stakes race for quantum supremacy, WIRED UK

Alice KLEIN, Rethinking Miscarriage, New Scientist

Jane QIU, Chasing Plagues, freelance for Scentific American

Winner: Alice KLEIN, Rethinking Miscarriage, New Scientist

The judges said:

"It was difficult to choose between the high quality of shortlisted pieces, however, during our deliberations, the overall group of judges settled on this one especially powerful and important piece."


Feature of the Year - specialist audience

Elizabeth GIBNEY, How a small Arab nation built a Mars mission from scratch in six years, Nature

David ROBSON, Vaccinating against viruses of the mind, freelance for The Psychologist

Angela SAINI, Stereotype threat, freelance for The Lancet

Winner: David ROBSON, Vaccinating against viruses of the mind, freelance for The Psychologist

The judges said:

"A fluently-written, engaging feature that highlights important, timely work. We also liked the use of metaphor to ground the piece in the vocabulary of the day."


Newcomer of the Year

Catarina CARRAO, freelance

Layal LIVERPOOL, freelance/New Scientist

Sabrina WEISS, freelance/Wired UK 

Winner: Sabrina WEISS, freelance/Wired UK

The judges said:

"She is a really accessible writer. She took the great opportunities provided to her and delivered some very high level articles from them."


News Analysis or Explanatory Reporting of the Year

Juanita BAWAGAN, Covid-19: Why are so many BAME patients dying?, freelance for BBC Science Focus

Graham LAWTON, Science in crisis, New Scientist

Debora MacKENZIE, What happens next? freelance for New Scientist

Tom WHIPPLE, Safe to send children back? The Times

Winner: Tom WHIPPLE, Safe to send children back? The Times

The judges said:

"A clear guide on key questions a parent would ask, showing confidence in the answers and backed-up by evidence."

News Item of the Year

Graham LAWTON, The hope of immunity, New Scientist

Heidi LEDFORD, Coronavirus shuts down trials of drugs for multiple other diseases, Nature

Joe PINKSTONE, Kawasaki-like disease affecting children IS caused by the coronavirus and can only be diagnosed by antibody tests, scientists confirm, MailOnline

Winner: Heidi LEDFORD, Coronavirus shuts down trials of drugs for multiple other diseases, Nature

The judges said:

"Excellent story - newsy and well-reported but also with a clear human impact. It could have been dry but the reporter brought the issue to life through sources that give the piece urgency. It also appears to have had a direct impact."


NUJ Stephen White Award for communication and reporting of science in a non science context

Slavea CHANKOVA, Flattening the curve, The Economist

Rohin FRANCIS, Doctor gives six reasons to be optimistic about coronavirus, YouTube

Sue MITCHELL with Richard HANNAFORD, Winifred ROBINSON and John WRIGHT, The NHS Front Line, BBC Radio 4 

Winner: Rohin Francis, Doctor gives six reasons to be optimistic about coronavirus, YouTube

The judges said:

"This entry was a great combination of authoritative and entertaining, making excellent use of the format. It really conveyed good responses to the key questions about the pandemic at the times it was written, and was widely seen. It now seems very prescient."


Opinion Piece or Editorial of the Year

Kamran ABBASI, Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science, The BMJ

Anjana AHUJA, Would it be better to divert early booster shots to the unprotected? freelance for the Financial Times

Edward CARR, Going global, The Economist

Winner: Anjana AHUJA, Would it be better to divert early booster shots to the unprotected? freelance for the Financial Times

The judges said:

"The best opinion articles carry evidence of deep subject knowledge, overlaid with being on top of the latest reporting – and this entry demonstrates both. The author’s call was echoed by Tony Blair a week later. The author doesn’t claim that their article changed policy, but it absolutely would have carried influence."


Research Policy or Funding Story of the Year

Maria DELANEY, On social welfare, unable to buy a house: The reality facing Ireland's academics, Noteworthy.ie

Helen SHEN, Meet this super-spotter of duplicated images in science papers, freelance for Nature

Richard VAN NOORDEN, The ethical questions that haunt facial-recognition research, Nature

Winner: Maria DELANEY, On social welfare, unable to buy a house: The reality facing Ireland's academics, Noteworthy.ie

The judges said:

"A proper investigation on an important matter affecting thousands of researchers – casualisation and precarious employment. It also had good evidence too of impact on policy makers. An excellent package, backed up by transparent data."


Royal Society Audio Award

Philip BALL with Alex MANSFIELD, Led by the science?, BBC Radio 4

Kevin FONG  with Andrew Luck-BAKER and Rami TZABAR, 13 Minutes to the Moon Season 2 - Death of the Odyssey 2, BBC World Service

Jason HOSKEN with Natasha LODER , Rosalind Franklin - her discoveries are more relevant than ever, The Economist

Dimitri HOUTART with Anne-Marie BULLOCK and Tom HEAP, Costing the Earth: The Great Leaky Loo Scandal, BBC Radio 4

Special mention: Sue NELSON with Richard HOLLINGHAM, Window on the universe, BBC World Service

Winner: Kevin FONG  with Andrew Luck-BAKER and Rami TZABAR, 13 Minutes to the Moon Season 2 - Death of the Odyssey 2, BBC World Service

The judges said:

"We were blown away by the storytelling and innovative production in play in this winner"


Steve Connor Award for Investigative Journalism

Hannah BARNES and Deborah COHEN, The Tavistock's Gender Identity Development Service, BBC Newsnight

Chrissie GILES with Madlen DAVIES, Rosa FURNEAUX, Ben STOCKTON, Ben DU PREEZ, Stretched, secret supply chains hold Covid-19 patients' lives in the balance, Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Benedikt HEUBL, UK climate change sceptics group is stronger than ever, E&T Magazine

Winner: Chrissie GILES with Madlen DAVIES, Rosa FURNEAUX, Ben STOCKTON, Ben DU PREEZ, Stretched, secret supply chains hold Covid-19 patients' lives in the balance, Bureau of Investigative Journalism

The judges said:

"Hands down the best piece in this category by far and deserves to win. I was impressed with the exacting research and the way it used a specific story to illuminate a much wider and hugely important and under-recognised issue. First class stuff."


Video Story of the Year

Noah BAKER with Davide CASTELVECCHI and Dan FOX, Inside Japan's Big Physics| Part one: Super Kamiokande, Nature/YouTube

Melissa HOGENBOOM with Pierangelo PIRAK, The strange idea that we are not in control of our minds, BBC Global News

Winner: Noah BAKER with Davide CASTELVECCHI and Dan FOX, Inside Japan's Big Physics| Part one: Super Kamiokande, Nature/YouTube

The judges said:

 "The production quality of this video is exceptionally high for the budget it was likely produced on."


The Dr Katharine Giles Award for best popular article written by a scientist or engineer

Sheena CRUICKSHANK, Inflammation: the key factor that explains vulnerability to severe Covid, The Conversation

Jamie HARTMANN-BOYCE, Coronavirus and diabetes: the different risks for people with type 1 and type 2, The Conversation

Sir David SPIEGELHALTER, When politicians cite Covid-19 statistics, they may be wrong – it doesn't mean the numbers are, University of Cambridge

Winner: Sheena CRUICKSHANK, Inflammation: the key factor that explains vulnerability to severe Covid, The Conversation

The judges said:

"An article that summarised the links between inflammation and the main risk factors for severe disease resulting from COVID-19. It bravely provided a clear explanation of the underlying science, despite its many complexities."


The 2022 Awards will open for submissions in December 2021. If you are not a member of ABSW, sign up for our newsletter for updates.


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