UK Conference of Science Journalists

Day Two: Wednesday 14 October

09:50 Cybersecurity for journalists (90 mins)

Session moderator: Wendy Grossman

Invited speaker: Duncan Campbell

Are you working securely? Journalists are often more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than the average person, so need to be aware of their security. In this session, we learn about the simple tips and tricks for journalists to keep their digital life safe.


11:30 Disinformation and how to counter it (90mins)

Session moderator: Angela Saini

Panel: Ewan Birney (European Molecular Biology Lab), Amil Khan (Valent Projects), Michael Marshall, (Good Thinking Society), Mike Wendling (BBC Trending)

Science journalists and editors are fighting a war not only against dodgy misinformation but also, increasingly, disinformation designed to deliberately deceive, usually for political ends. 

Focusing on the tactics of those spreading pseudoscientific theories such as climate change denial, anti-vaccination sentiment and racism, this panel assembled by the science journalist Angela Saini. founder of the ‘Challenging Pseudoscience’ group at the Royal Institution, explores the tactics of those who sow disinformation and how science journalists can cover and combat this dangerous form of online abuse.


13:30 How to survive as a freelance journalist (90 mins)

Session moderator: Dalmeet Singh Chawla

Panel: Roxanne Khamsi, Benjamin Plackett, Elizabeth Preston, Inga Vesper

How does one start a career as a freelance journalist and manage it in the long-run? How has Covid-19 affected the world of freelance science journalism? How much do freelancers get paid and how do you negotiate higher rates? And how can freelancers maximise their productivity and supplement their income in ways other than writing?


15:00 Dos and don'ts of pitching (90 mins)

Session moderator: Katrina Wesencraft

Panel: Nisha Gaind (Nature), Josh Howgego (New Scientist), Matt Reynolds (WIRED UK), Sarah Tesh (Physics World)

In this interactive session,  editors discuss the essence of good pitches, the dos and don’ts, how to deal with an editor ghosting you, and more. There is also the chance to pitch your idea live to the panel and get feedback. 

Please submit your pitch idea using the form at the bottom of this page.


15:10 Mental wellbeing for science journalists (90 mins)

Session moderator: Andy Extance

Panel: Amy Charles (BBC), Lucy Maddox (consultant clinical psychologist), Alex Riley (freelance)

Journalism brings with it many pressures and triggers that can affect mental health. How is awareness changing in our industry, and what still needs to change? What tools and resources are available for mental wellbeing support? And what should editors and managers be aware of?


16:40 How to measure success (90 mins)

Session moderator: Richard Fisher

Panel: Angèle Christin, Stanford University, Chris Moran, Guardian News 

Analytics in the newsroom are continually shaping the stories we choose to cover. The exodus from print to online has had many benefits, but the downsides are significant, too. Editorial goals are increasingly influenced by the growing importance of audience data in web newsrooms. This creates immense pressure on journalists and communicators.

In this session we are looking at how journalists and their writing can be negatively impacted by the number of clicks or followers they are getting or not getting.

Our aim is to help delegates understand how they can measure, contextualise and understand the true impact of their work.


16:50 A brilliant book proposal (90 mins)

Session moderator: Ehsan Masood

Panel: Alex O'Brien, Science and Technology Writer, Peter Tallack, Founder and Director of the Science Factory literary agency, Elizabeth Sheinkman, Literary Agent, Peter Fraser Dunlop Literary and Talent Agency

What does a top-notch book proposal look like in 2020?

In this session, we get advice from a publisher/editor, an author and an agent about what it takes to develop your idea for a book into an effective proposal. We’ll also cover recent industry trends, why you should (and shouldn’t) decide to write a book, and the practicalities and pitfalls of making the transition from journalism to the (very) long-form.


19:00 ABSW Awards Ceremony (70 mins)

Join us to celebrate excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics journalism and writing across 16 categories

We will award £12,700 in prizes, thanks in part to support from our award sponsors UKRI, IBM Research Europe, ABPI, BIVDA, the Royal Society, The Katherine Giles Fund and the NUJ.

Here's a reminder of this year's shortlist.

The Awards Ceremony is free to attend and open to all. If you are not attending the UK Conference of Science Journalists, you can register separately to join us just for the Awards Ceremony.

Wednesday 14 Oct 15:00: Dos and don'ts of pitching

Communication preferences

The Association of British Science Writers is registered in England and Wales under company number 07376343 at 76 Glebe Lane, Barming, Maidstone, Kent, ME16 9BD.
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