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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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TON and CASW launch "story diagrams" series

Today we’re thrilled to announce a new collaboration that we hope will benefit science writers at all levels of experience, from students to veterans. With support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, CASW and The Open Notebook are partnering to produce a series of annotated stories aimed at shedding light on what makes some of the best science writing so outstanding.

A group of distinguished judges will select stories from among winners of major science-writing awards to be presented as “story diagrams,” or Storygrams. The Storygrams will be featured at TON, along with Q&A interviews with the stories’ authors.

Additionally, they’ll be featured at the soon-to-launch CASW Showcase website, which will republish additional selected award-winning science stories and provide community updates on award programs. Through the Storygrams, both TON and CASW hope to show how tough challenges in science journalism and communication can be surmounted as well as amplify the impact of these exceptional stories.

In the first annotation, coming next week, environmental and science journalist Tom Yulsman, a professor of journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, dissects science journalist Cally Carswell’s award-winning 2013 High Country News story “The Tree Coroners.” TON and CASW look forward to bringing more Storygrams to the science journalism community soon.

Published May 26, 2016

CASW elects new board members, officers

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing is pleased to announce that three new members have joined the board, while two continuing board members are rotating into officer slots. Board and officer elections took place during the Council's annual meeting April 30 at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, Calif.

New directors elected to three-year terms (and pictured left to right) are:

With CASW's program agenda expanding and the World Conference of Science Journalists coming to the US in 2017, the election of new members is intended to restore the volunteer board to full strength after a series of recent retirements. Other members recently elected are:

Members newly elected to officer slots at the April meeting are freelance science writer Robin Lloyd, vice president, and National Public Radio science correspondent Richard Harris, treasurer. They succeed Deborah Blum and Tom Siegfried, who have stepped down as vice president and treasurer, respectively, while continuing on the board. Continuing as officers for 2016-17 are Alan Boyle, president, and Charles Petit, secretary. CASW officers are elected annually.

"We're proud to have these leaders in science writing and philanthropy on our team as we take on new challenges, including next year's World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco and other programs we'll be launching in the months ahead," Boyle said. "CASW is now in a good position to build on more than a half-century of improving the quantity and quality of science news reaching the public." 

2016-17 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellows distinguished by diverse experiences, accomplishment

Five science-trained journalists who have pursued their passions for science and writing in locations as diverse as Mexico and Yemen have been awarded the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing's prestigious Taylor/Blakeslee University Fellowships supporting graduate study in science writing.

The Fellows will receive a $5,000 award for the 2016-17 academic year, bringing to 151 the number of science writers aided by CASW’s graduate fellowships since 1981.

Chosen from a field of 31 outstanding applicants were:

Matthew Blois (pictured above), a Peace Corps Volunteer based in Guadalajara, Mexico who finds that he “constantly encounters people and ideas that force me to reevaluate how I think about the relationship between humans and the environment. Trained in biology and Spanish at Westmont College, Blois organizes live storytelling events for training and uses a blog to document the stories he encounters. He will pursue a master’s degree in environmental and natural resource journalism from the University of Montana to develop his skill to use varied media to tell stories about science, people and the environment.

Jennifer LuJennifer Lu of Columbia, Missouri. Lu is enrolled in the journalism master’s program at the University of Missouri. Having studied investigative journalism and data reporting this year, she plans to spend her second year applying those skills to science stories specific to Missouri and beyond. Lu holds a master’s degree in biochemistry from Brandeis University and worked as a research technician in Boston-area medical labs before taking up science writing and newspaper reporting. She is currently a science writer at the university's Bond Life Sciences Center.

Raleigh McElveryRaleigh McElvery (@raleighmcelvery) of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. McElvery's interest in neuroscience was ignited when Alzheimer’s disease struck her grandmother. While completing summer internships as a neuroscience major at Bowdoin College, she found that she preferred translating science to the public to scientific writing.  A communications internship at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard solidified her enthusiasm for a career as a “courier of knowledge.” McElvery will enroll in the MIT science writing master’s program

Tik RootPathik “Tik” Root (@TikRoot) is a Vermont-based freelancer and Middlebury College graduate. He has reported from Yemen, Rwanda, Spain, Turkey and Russia as a freelance broadcast, newspaper and magazine reporter. While studying and reporting in the Middle East, Root became aware of the critical importance of environmental and resource issues to the stability and sustainability of the modern world. Recipient of a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting travel grant, he will enroll in Columbia University’s master’s in journalism program, concentrating on science, health and the environment.

Maria TemmingMaria Temming (@mariatemming) of Cincinnati, Ohio. As an undergraduate honors student at Elon University, Temming has double-majored in physics and creative writing and once wrote a class essay that compared obsessive compulsive disorder to a calculus problem, finding the area under a graphical curve with integration. After cutting her teeth writing and producing science stories for Sky & Telescope and Scientific American and a campus blog, she will enroll in MIT’s master’s program in science writing.

CASW's graduate fellowships are underwritten by a grant from The Brinson Foundation, a Chicago-based philanthropic organization. They honor the late Rennie Taylor and Alton Blakeslee, science writer and science editor respectively for the Associated Press. More information may be found on this page.

 

Science writers head for a science city deep in the heart of Texas

CASW's 54th presentation of the New Horizons in Science briefing will take place in the seventh-largest city in the US this year: San Antonio, Texas. Just ahead of the Día de los Muertos, science writers will descend on San Antonio for ScienceWriters2016, which combines the New Horizons program with the workshops program of the National Association of Science Writers and a program of tours, field trips and lunch conversations with local scientists organized by our hosts. This year's sessions will take place at the Omni La Mansión del Rio on San Antonio's famed River Walk, hosted by a local consortium headed by Texas Biomedical Research Institute and BioBridge Global. A detailed program is posted on the conference website.

Proposals for science + science writing sessions due by March 1

CASW invites science writers to propose a special session for the New Horizons in Science program at ScienceWriters2016. "Science + Science Writing" sessions draw on a current science topic for discussion of challenges or issues in covering science. These sessions are intended to elucidate issues facing science writers covering particular areas of science. They also are intended to provide opportunities for open conversation between scientists and writers. Up to three selected sessions will be interwoven with the New Horizons in Science presentations that take place on Sunday and Monday. For guidelines and more information, see the CASW submission page. Proposals must be submitted by March 1.

 

Special reporting grant awarded to Amy McDermott

(January 21, 2016) Amy McDermott, now studying at the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Science Communication Program and already a prolific reporter, writer and editor, has won a $5,000 special reporting grant from CASW’s Taylor-Blakeslee university graduate fellowships program.

McDermott will travel to Alaska and New Mexico to visit scientists in the field as they monitor communities of sentinel species for signals of forest health, air pollution and climate change. Her project, combining field reporting and photography, is intended to generate magazine articles and blog posts.

A panel of CASW board members chose McDermott's proposal over three other impressive entries, commenting that her plan is not only ambitious but is particularly well focused on a specific, manageable goal. It also is about a fresh topic most lay readers will never have encountered. 

The judges added that McDermott’s plan reveals a deep appreciation for the reporting opportunities of immersing oneself in team research—and showing the public how vital to modern science are the data fed by such studies.

McDermott is one of four graduate students currently supported by Taylor-Blakeslee University Fellowships. With support from the Brinson Foundation, which underwrites the fellowships, CASW invited the Fellows to compete for a follow-up grant to help launch their careers. 

“We set up this competition to challenge our Fellows to propose high-impact enterprise projects that would leverage their graduate training and entrepreneurial talent,” said CASW Executive Director Rosalind Reid. “Every one of them met the challenge magnificently. Although we are able to fund only one project, we hope all of them are undertaken. They are all writers of extraordinary ability and commitment."

McDermott, who holds a master’s degree in evolutionary biology from Columbia University, aspires to a national magazine career as a writer and editor focusing on environmental science. Before joining the UCSC program, she launched the online magazine Hawkmoth.

Video of 2015 Patrusky Lecture available

Yale microbiologist and White House official Jo Handelsman gave a sweeping presentation on microbiome research to science writers attending CASW's 53rd New Horizons in Science briefings at MIT on Oct. 11, 2015.

The Patrusky Lecture was a highlight of ScienceWriters2015, the annual conference that combines New Horizons with the professional development workshops organized by the National Association of Science Writers. Some 800 science writers, a record number, attended this year's conference.

A full video recording of Handelsman's talk is now available on the Patrusky Lectures page.

U.S. science writers announce dates, venue, partners for 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists

CAMBRIDGE, MA (October 10, 2015) — The 10th World Conference of Science Journalists, expected to bring more than 1,200 journalists from around the world to San Francisco, has been scheduled for October 26–30, 2017, two U.S. lead organizations announced today.

The National Association of Science Writers and Council for the Advancement of Science Writing bid together to host the biennial conference of the World Federation of Science Journalists in the United States for the first time. They will work with partners across the Bay Area and the U.S. and around the globe to showcase science and develop a five-day program.

Two preeminent research universities in the Bay Area, the University of California San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley, will serve as host institutions, supporting the conference and opening their campuses to enrich the WCSJ program with science tours and presentations. In addition to visiting the host institution campuses and other research facilities in the area, WCSJ2017 will coordinate with the Bay Area Science Festival to engage science journalists in public science events and outreach around the Bay Area. San Francisco’s Marriott Marquis has been chosen as the main conference venue.

NASW and CASW officially kicked off organizing and fundraising efforts today at their annual awards gala, held in Cambridge as part of ScienceWriters2015, the annual conference produced by the two organizations and this year attended by 800 science writers. WCSJ2017 will be held in place of the annual U.S. meeting, bringing U.S. writers together with members of some 50 other science journalism organizations in the developed and developing world.

Information about the 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists

DOWNLOADABLE BROCHURE

Website:
http://wcsj2017.org

Twitter:
#wcsj2017

Co-chairing the Organizing Committee for WCSJ2017 will be two senior leaders of the U.S. science journalism community: Ron Winslow, deputy editor for health and science and senior medical and health care writer for the Wall Street Journal, and Cristine Russell, senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Both are past presidents of NASW, and Russell is immediate past president of CASW.

“We're thrilled to invite science writers from around the world to participate in our terrific professional workshops and science programs,” Winslow said. “It’s a great opportunity for NASW members, too. The chance to connect with and learn from science-writing colleagues from other countries and cultures can be a life-changing experience.”

Russell added: “We’re proud to be hosting the conference in the U.S. for the first time, with San Francisco likely to attract the largest global gathering of science writers to date. It’s an opportunity to improve science writing and learn about cutting-edge science in an area known for research, innovation and enterprise. California is also facing environmental challenges, such severe drought and water shortages, that mirror problems across the world.”

Winslow said the conference theme, “Bridging Science and Societies,” was chosen to reflect “the vital role science journalists play in connecting audiences to the science that affects their lives” as well as the issues that arise along the interface between the global scientific enterprise and the world’s diversity of cultures. An international Program Committee to build activities around the theme will be chaired by Pulitzer-winning author Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and vice president of CASW.

“We’re looking forward to working with science journalists both in the U.S. and around the world,” Blum said, “to develop a global program, one that does justice to the ever-changing, fascinating and important role of communication in the way we think about science and society.”

A special focus of the 2017 conference will be programming and financial support to encourage participation and training for Latin American science journalists. The World Federation has focused many of its efforts on capacity-building in developing countries. California’s proximity to Latin America, Winslow said, “will allow us to strengthen existing and emerging networks with Latin American science journalists.”

The organizers have already developed partnerships with the National Academy of Sciences, California Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science and other scientific societies in support of the conference, which will combine professional developing and networking with presentations on leading-edge science patterned after CASW’s 53-year-old New Horizons in Science briefings. “By gathering so many science journalists from around the world, including from many developing nations,” National Academy President Ralph J. Cicerone noted in supporting the U.S. bid, “the WCSJ reflects the increasingly global nature of the research enterprise.”

Russell will head a committee reaching out to foundations and to Bay Area companies and organizations to recruit additional sponsors and partners for the event over the coming year. The organizers hope to create opportunities for international journalists to experience the vibrant research and development environment around the Bay, explore the interplay of innovation and technology that drives Northern California, and enjoy science excursions that expose them to the region’s natural wonders and environmental challenges.

UCSF and Berkeley Chancellors Nicholas Dirks and Sam Hawgood said they looked forward to welcoming science journalists to “one of the world’s great cities... an area known for its international flair and for universities with a true global outlook.”

THE CONFERENCE PARTNERS

CASW: Founded in 1959, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (http://casw.org) is a panel of distinguished journalists, science communication specialists and scientists committed to improving the quality and quantity of science news reaching the public. CASW will have the lead role in fundraising to support travel for developing-country journalists, hospitality and conference program expenses.

NASW: Founded in 1934, the National Association of Science Writers (http://nasw.org) is an association of more 2,000 members chartered to “foster the dissemination of accurate information through all media normally devoted to informing the public.” NASW’s programs improve the craft of science writing, fight for the free flow of science news, and honor excellence in science writing. http

WFSJ: The Montréal-based World Federation of Science Journalists (http://wfsj.org) connects science journalists worldwide through conferences, competitions, and networking and encourages strong, critical coverage of issues in science and technology, environment, health and emdicine, agriculture and related fields. Current programs help journalists worldwide learn about infectious diseases including Ebola and the hepatitis C virus. WFSJ offers an online science journalism course in 10 languages.

UCSF and UCB: Founded in 1873 and dedicated to advancing health worldwide, UC San Francisco (http://ucsf.edu) is the leading university in the U.S. exclusively focused on health. Founded five years earlier, UC Berkeley (http://berkeley.edu) is the flagship of the University of California system and places #3 overall among the world’s universities in the latest US News & World Report rankings. Between them the two universities’ faculties have earned 40 Nobel Prizes.

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U.S. science writers announce dates, venue, partners for 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists

CAMBRIDGE, MA (October 10, 2015) — The 10th World Conference of Science Journalists, expected to bring more than 1,200 journalists from around the world to San Francisco, has been scheduled for October 26–30, 2017, two U.S. lead organizations announced today.

The National Association of Science Writers and Council for the Advancement of Science Writing bid together to host the biennial conference of the World Federation of Science Journalists in the United States for the first time. They will work with partners across the Bay Area and the U.S. and around the globe to showcase science and develop a five-day program.

Two preeminent research universities in the Bay Area, the University of California San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley, will serve as host institutions, supporting the conference and opening their campuses to enrich the WCSJ program with science tours and presentations. In addition to visiting the host institution campuses and other research facilities in the area, WCSJ2017 will coordinate with the Bay Area Science Festival to engage science journalists in public science events and outreach around the Bay Area. San Francisco’s Marriott Marquis has been chosen as the main conference venue.

NASW and CASW officially kicked off organizing and fundraising efforts today at their annual awards gala, held in Cambridge as part of ScienceWriters2015, the annual conference produced by the two organizations and this year attended by 800 science writers. WCSJ2017 will be held in place of the annual U.S. meeting, bringing U.S. writers together with members of some 50 other science journalism organizations in the developed and developing world.

2017 World Conference of Science Journalists website: http://wcsj2017.org Twitter: #wcsj2017

Co-chairing the Organizing Committee for WCSJ2017 will be two senior leaders of the U.S. science journalism community: Ron Winslow, deputy editor for health and science and senior medical and health care writer for the Wall Street Journal, and Cristine Russell, senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Both are past presidents of NASW, and Russell is immediate past president of CASW.

“We're thrilled to invite science writers from around the world to participate in our terrific professional workshops and science programs,” Winslow said. “It’s a great opportunity for NASW members, too. The chance to connect with and learn from science-writing colleagues from other countries and cultures can be a life-changing experience.”

Russell added: “We’re proud to be hosting the conference in the U.S. for the first time, with San Francisco likely to attract the largest global gathering of science writers to date. It’s an opportunity to improve science writing and learn about cutting-edge science in an area known for research, innovation and enterprise. California is also facing environmental challenges, such severe drought and water shortages, that mirror problems across the world.”

Winslow said the conference theme, “Bridging Science and Societies,” was chosen to reflect “the vital role science journalists play in connecting audiences to the science that affects their lives” as well as the issues that arise along the interface between the global scientific enterprise and the world’s diversity of cultures. An international Program Committee to build activities around the theme will be chaired by Pulitzer-winning author Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and vice president of CASW.

“We’re looking forward to working with science journalists both in the U.S. and around the world,” Blum said, “to develop a global program, one that does justice to the ever-changing, fascinating and important role of communication in the way we think about science and society.”

A special focus of the 2017 conference will be programming and financial support to encourage participation and training for Latin American science journalists. The World Federation has focused many of its efforts on capacity-building in developing countries. California’s proximity to Latin America, Winslow said, “will allow us to strengthen existing and emerging networks with Latin American science journalists.”

The organizers have already developed partnerships with the National Academy of Sciences, California Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science and other scientific societies in support of the conference, which will combine professional developing and networking with presentations on leading-edge science patterned after CASW’s 53-year-old New Horizons in Science briefings. “By gathering so many science journalists from around the world, including from many developing nations,” National Academy President Ralph J. Cicerone noted in supporting the U.S. bid, “the WCSJ reflects the increasingly global nature of the research enterprise.”

Russell will head a committee reaching out to foundations and to Bay Area companies and organizations to recruit additional sponsors and partners for the event over the coming year. The organizers hope to create opportunities for international journalists to experience the vibrant research and development environment around the Bay, explore the interplay of innovation and technology that drives Northern California, and enjoy science excursions that expose them to the region’s natural wonders and environmental challenges.

UCSF and Berkeley Chancellors Nicholas Dirks and Sam Hawgood said they looked forward to welcoming science journalists to “one of the world’s great cities... an area known for its international flair and for universities with a true global outlook.”

THE CONFERENCE PARTNERS

CASW: Founded in 1959, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (http://casw.org) is a panel of distinguished journalists, science communication specialists and scientists committed to improving the quality and quantity of science news reaching the public. CASW will have the lead role in fundraising to support travel for developing-country journalists, hospitality and conference program expenses.

NASW: Founded in 1934, the National Association of Science Writers (http://nasw.org) is an association of more 2,000 members chartered to “foster the dissemination of accurate information through all media normally devoted to informing the public.” NASW’s programs improve the craft of science writing, fight for the free flow of science news, and honor excellence in science writing. http

WFSJ: The Montréal-based World Federation of Science Journalists (http://wfsj.org) connects science journalists worldwide through conferences, competitions, and networking and encourages strong, critical coverage of issues in science and technology, environment, health and emdicine, agriculture and related fields. Current programs help journalists worldwide learn about infectious diseases including Ebola and the hepatitis C virus. WFSJ offers an online science journalism course in 10 languages.

UCSF and UCB: Founded in 1873 and dedicated to advancing health worldwide, UC San Francisco (http://ucsf.edu) is the leading university in the U.S. exclusively focused on health. Founded five years earlier, UC Berkeley (http://berkeley.edu) is the flagship of the University of California system and places #3 overall among the world’s universities in the latest US News & World Report rankings. Between them the two universities’ faculties have earned 40 Nobel Prizes.

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Contact:         Tinsley Davis, NASW                    Rosalind Reid, CASW

[email protected]                          [email protected]

 

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