Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

CASW launches website to showcase great science writing

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing announces the launch of CASW Showcase (http://showcase.casw.org), a website that provides an up-close look at award-winning science journalism to provide inspiration and insight to science writers, especially those who are learning the craft.

“CASW celebrates excellence in our profession,” said CASW President Alan Boyle. “Each year, dozens of science writers donate their time to awards programs, combing through publications, websites and broadcasts to find examples of exceptional reporting and writing about science and its impact on society. We want to amplify the impact of those programs, celebrate great science journalism and provide a resource for everyone who aspires to be a great science writer.”

CASW board members and other senior science writers will serve as curators for the site, selecting exemplars from among recent winners of science journalism competitions. Over time, Showcase will become an in-depth archive for many different reports, showing how award-winning journalists have tackled the challenge of writing compelling stories about science for diverse audiences.

Features planned for Showcase include:

 Storygrams, or “story diagrams,” which are professional annotations of great stories to highlight how writers have tackled the challenges of covering science. Six Storygrams per year will be produced through a collaboration of CASW and The Open Notebook, which will co-publish them and add an author interview.

  • A calendar showing the deadlines for, and the announcements from, award programs for science writing. 
  • A blog, “The Envelope, Please,” which will provide site updates, news and commentary from the world of science writing awards.
  • A Suggestion Box inviting nominations of award-winning science writing from all over.

Initially Showcase will present, with permission, selected stories that have been published since 2013 and honored by either CASW’s awards programs or three other science writing competitions: the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards, presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in cooperation with the Kavli Foundation; the Science in Society Journalism Awards, presented by the National Association of Science Writers; and the Keck Futures Initiative Communication Awards, presented by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine with the support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. CASW presents the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting and manages the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

CASW Executive Director Rosalind Reid said Showcase will broaden its collection over time to include other awards programs and work selected for science-writing anthologies. As funding and technology allow, CASW hopes to add multimedia, stories that have won awards outside the U.S., and writing in languages other than English.

Freelance science journalist Shannon Hall has managed the development of the site and will serve as Showcase’s editor and blogger. Hall holds a master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree in science journalism from New York University. She freelances for Scientific American, Discover, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and other publications.

The project took flight after the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded CASW a three-year, $90,000 grant in December 2015. Additional support has come from an initiative called PressForward, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and additional contributions to CASW. Showcase uses PressForward software to facilitate the judging, selection and republishing process.

Showcase is the brainchild of CASW’s immediate past president, Cristine Russell, who advocated a larger role for CASW as a provider of resources for science journalism and communication. During strategic planning in 2014, CASW’s board focused on the needs of aspiring and student science writers. The board asked Reid and CASW’s Next Horizons Committee, chaired by freelance writer Betsy Mason, to develop a site that would provide examples of great science writing for this audience.

“Showcasing prize-winning science journalism can help those entering the field, as well as more experienced writers. There is no magic formula for what makes a great science story. But reading and dissecting some of the best articles can help inspire better science journalism,” said Russell.

About CASW

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing is committed to improving the quality and quantity of science news reaching the public. Directed and advised by distinguished journalists and scientists, CASW develops and funds programs that encourage accurate and informative writing about developments in science, technology, medicine and the environment. CASW was incorporated in 1959 as a nonprofit educational organization.

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Published July 12, 2016

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