The speakers in detail

The Conference Schedule

Tuesday September 27, 2022

Science reporting post pandemic: Lessons learned, changing working practices, next big stories 

Plenary One: The challenges and lessons of reporting the pandemic


Throughout the covid-19 pandemic Sirin Kale's coverage, primarily for The Guardian, including her seven-part series "Lost to the Virus" has consistently received great acclaim. While Kale's journalism ranges widely, her pandemic coverage has shown how science touches everything, and everything touches science. In this session, she will discuss the challenges of reporting the pandemic, the inequalities it exposed, and how it changed journalism. Plenary Chaired by Andy Extance, Chair of the ABSW and Freelance Science Writer.

Plenary Two: Spike: The Virus vs. The People - the Inside Story 

17:00 - 18:00

How do we arrive at a truthful narrative of the Covid-19 pandemic, when both the science and politics is so heavily contested? Jeremy Farrar and Anjana Ahuja discuss their acclaimed bestseller Spike, which revealed pandemic chaos in the corridors of power. Spike, likened to a John le Carre thriller, was recently shortlisted for the 2022 Orwell Prize for Political Writing.  Plenary Chaired by Elisabeth Mahase, Clinical Reporter, the BMJ. 

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Meet the Editors

13:15 - 14:15 

Book a slot during the morning coffee break to pitch your ideas, get careers or other advice from our expert editors.  Editors so far: Matin Durrani, Editor-in-chief, Physics World, Niall Firth, Executive Editor, MIT Technology Review, Sarah Richardson, Group Editor, Research Professional News, Philip Robinson, Editor, Chemistry World, Emma Stoye, News Editor, Nature, Mun-Keat Looi, International Features Editor, BMJ, Joseph Harker, Senior Editor, Diversity & Development, The Guardian, Miriam Frankel, Science Editor, The Conversation (NB: The Conversation only commissions work from academics)

Parallel Sessions

Combating scientific misinformation in the social media age - a success story


The Challenging Pseudoscience group at the Royal Institution has carried out research looking at anti-vaxxers, and used that research to see if the same tactics used by misinformation spreaders on YouTubers might be used to challenge them. Amil Khan, Director, Valent Projects, and Alexandra Clark, Founder, Tale Tell Research explain their approach and why it was successful at changing people's minds. Joined by BBC news senior reporter - health and misinformation Rachel Schraer, to broaden out the debate on social media and misinformation. Chaired by Philip Ball, Freelance Author & Writer. Produced by Angela Saini, Freelance Science Journalist and Broadcaster.

COVID, scientists and science journalists


The pandemic has put scientists in the media glare. They have been asked to make predictions. Prescribe what people should do. Draw on data that's shifting all the time. Journalists have been involved with relaying all of this to the outside world. What has it been like for the scientists and the journalists?  Produced by Katherine Rushton, Deputy Investigations Editor, The Telegraph and Andy Ridgway, Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, Programme Leader MSc in Science Communication, University of the West of England, with panellists Linda Geddes, Science Correspondent, The Guardian, Kit Yates, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath, Janet Eastham, Investigations Reporter, The Telegraph and Neil Ferguson, Professor of Mathematical Biology, Imperial College London.

Lessons from the best on science video making


There are so many different ways to include video in science communication. This session looks at how, when and where you yourself can use video - with easily applicable tips and deeper insights into science filmmaking.  Host Shamini Bundell, Senior Multimedia Editor, Nature will be talking to panellists Emily Bates, Digital Video Producer, New Scientist, Melissa Hogenboom, Managing Editor, BBC Studios, and Rohin Francis, creator of the YouTube channel Medlife Crisis.

Lessons from a pandemic: how journalists navigated the weird world of work during COVID-19


As we start to recover from the huge social experiment that the pandemic lockdowns plunged us into, what lessons can journalists take away? This session will see science journalists and news editors explore the sudden transition to remote working and share their experiences about what worked, what didn’t, and how their working practices have changed as a result. We’ll explore some of the latest research into the benefits and downsides to remote versus in-person working. And freelance and staff journalists will tell us what changed for them during the lockdowns, with tips to help us all be more efficient and collegiate as we move into the post-pandemic world. Produced and Chaired by Katharine Sanderson, with panellists Natasha Loder, The Economist, Emma Stoye, Nature and Claire Ainsworth, Freelance.

Science Writer Dragon's Den


Pitch your ideas to a panel of experts, and win funding for your project. In its 75th year the Association of British Science Writers has its eyes on the future and is keen to encourage, get involved with and fund innovative and exciting new science journalism projects. How much is available? £10,000 for science writing and journalism professionals.  The Science Writer Dragons are Connie St Louis, Freelance Journalist and Writer, Aisling Irwin, ABSW’s honorary secretary and science and environmental journalist and author, Kirsty Styles, journalist, campaigner, researcher and performer, who advocates for good information, ethical technology and diverse leadership, and Roger Highfield, Science Director at the Science Museum Group, author, journalist and broadcaster.

The Investigative Journalism Toolkit


How do the best in the business achieve their high profile and successful investigations? From spotting the story, to digging up the evidence, and persuading your editor to allow you the time to run with it. This session is designed to give you the tools and methods needed for a successful investigation. Produced and chaired by Samuel Horti, Investigative Reporter, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, panellists include Katherine Rushton, Deputy Investigations Editor, The Telegraph, Alice Ross, reporter, Unearthed, Greenpeace, and Jeevan Vasagar, Climate Editor, Tortoise Media.

Trust, sensemaking and science – research insights for science writers


The Covid-19 pandemic provided a live experiment in how people respond to information about science. What did they watch, listen to and read at the height of the pandemic? Who did they trust? How did they make decisions about whether they would follow social distancing rules, wear a face mask or get vaccinated? The European Commission-funded RETHINK research project set out to answer these questions and the research it conducted provides important insights for science journalists and writers. In this session, science journalist Andy Ridgway, who led the RETHINK research team at UWE Bristol, will set out some of the key findings from the research and invite you to explore how it can be applied to your writing to make your words resonate with readers. This will be an interactive session in which you are provided with an opportunity to delve into the research and what it means to you. Produced by Andy Ridgway, Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, Programme Leader MSc in Science Communication & RETHINK principal investigator for University of West of England, Bristol

Who gets to tell the story? Diversity in science journalism


Who gets to tell the story of science in the media?  A panel discussion to explore diversity in science media in the UK.  What barriers are there to science journalism and who is taking action to address diversity in the news room? Produced by Angela Saini, Freelance Science Journalist and Broadcaster with panellists Melba Newsome freelance journalist and expert on diversifying reporting sources and subjects, Mun Keat Looi International Features Editor BMJ & Joseph Harker, Senior Editor Diversity, & Development, The Guardian.  Miriam Frankel, Science Editor, The Conversation will chair the panel.

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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