UK Conference of Science Journalists

Day Three: Thursday 15 October

09:50 Quiz the finalists: Part 2 (90 mins)

Session moderator: Mun Keat Looi

Panel: Giorgia Guglielmi (freelance), Hal Hodson (The Economist), Alok Jha (The Economist), Alex Riley (freelance)

Features categories in the ABSW annual awards are always inundated with entries, so how do you write one that will stand out from the rest?

In our second panel, two 2019 winners, and two of the shortlisted 2020 features entrants, will talk about what made their articles special – from dreaming up the idea to nailing the right interviews; and from crafting the narrative to working synergistically with the editor. 

Please read these masterpieces beforehand (for PDFs, see attachments at the bottom of the page) then come with your questions to: 

2019 winner Hal Hodson (The Economist): The family of a boy without a cerebellum found out how to take its place

2019 winner Alex Riley (freelance – Mosaic): How a wooden bench in Zimbabwe is starting a revolution in mental health

Giorgia Guglielmi (freelance – Nature): Facing up to injustice in genome science;

Alok Jha (The Economist): Gravitational astronomy proves its maturity

The discussion will be moderated by former Mosaic features editor Mun Keat Looi, now international features editor of the BMJ.  

Reminder: please read the four features to prepare for the session - you'll find them in the attachments at the bottom of the page.


11:30 Meet the experts (90 mins)

Session moderator: Ben Upton

Experts: Ben Deighton (SciDev.Net), Leo Hickman (Carbon Brief), Oliver Morton (The Economist), Helen Pearson (Nature), Matt Reynolds (WIRED UK), Joanna Roberts (Horizon)

Do you have a burning question about the skills and experience you should develop to enhance your career options? Could you benefit from a short focussed one-to-one with an expert in science writing or science journalism?  Book a ten-minute appointment with one of our experts to explore your options in confidence.

This 'meet the expert' surgery is likely to be over-subscribed so register your interest today - using the form at the bottom of this page - to secure a slot with the expert of your choice. We will confirm your surgery appointment w/c 05 October 2020.

Full details of our six experts and the areas they will advise on can be found in the PDF at the bottom of this page.


13:10 Learning, socialising and communicating through games (60 mins)

Session moderators: Andy Extance and Sam Illingworth

The modern board game industry is undergoing a renaissance, bringing an alternative social leisure pursuit to many. In addition, games like Pandemic can be used to get scientific messages across.

Sam Illingworth, Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, games designer, and co-founder of The Manchester Game Studies Network, will give us a 15-minute overview and we will then head over to the online platform Board Game Arena to try out the simple and fun game 6 Nimmt! or Take 6!

To participate, you must register with Board Game Arena and share your username

Please do this well in advance of Thursday's session if possible, and please familiarise yourself with the Board Game Arena platform by doing the tutorial that is offered when you first sign up. We will try to accommodate any extra last-minute participants on the fly. 

One of a number of host accounts will invite you to play a game on the platform, which will include a video and audio chat session. They will ask everyone to introduce themselves, and then explain the game 6 Nimmt!

If you have played before and would feel comfortable teaching others, please let us know, and we’ll make the necessary arrangements for you to join the host team. 

We will likely have time for one game in this session. For any delegates who don't wish to play, Sam will stay and chat in the digital space for some more conventional networking. 


13:30 Solutions journalism (90 mins)

Session moderators: Nina Fasciaux and Carolyn Robinson

Do you ever sign off on a piece of work with a feeling of unease because you haven't told the whole story? Surveys show that the public is disengaging from the news because it's so depressing. Does that accurately reflect what is happening in the world - or are we as journalists selectively ignoring the positive - the creative, hard-wrought solutions that are working and surely should get some air time to provide a balanced picture of the world. 

Solutions journalism is not PR and it's not about untested ideas. It seeks out the solutions and critiques them - and uses them to hold others to account. 

Nina Fasciaux and Carolyn Robinson will introduce solutions journalism - what it is and what it isn't, and help you explore how this lens could help you sharpen up your science reporting and bring you new angles for your stories. 

Limited to 30 participants only: sign up here to secure your spot


15:10 What works for younger audiences? (90 mins)

Session moderator: Ben Upton

Panel: Laura Garcia, Helen Pilcher, Chris Stokel-Walker, Sarah Zielinski

What do young audiences actually want from science journalism? It’s a perennial question. In this session, with practical and visual examples, we'll discover what has worked for reaching smart, engaged youth audiences in 2020, covering everything from Tiktok tips to the myths of Generation Z. This 90-minute panel discussion with four speakers will conclude with an audience Q&A.


16:50 Lessons from fiction for science writers (90 mins)

Session moderator: Inga Vesper

Panel: Martin Angler, Nick Booth

In this session, three journalists and authors discuss how fiction writing techniques can be applied to your journalism to make it clearer, more balanced and more exciting. Learn how to nail down your narrative, capture your readers and spin even the most boring policy story into an exciting tale.

There is some preparatory reading to be done before the session; we will make this available shortly.


18:20 Closing Ceremony(10 mins)

ABSW Chair Andy Extance and ABSW President Pallab Ghosh




Thursday 15 October 11:30: Meet the expert

Preferred expert(s) - choose a maximum of two

Communication preferences

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