Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

CASW Periscope

Sources often ask to see quotes or drafts before publication to ensure that their work is accurately represented and that the opinions they’ve given don’t reflect poorly on them. But even when well intentioned, most journalists agree these requests usually can’t be accommodated without a breach of integrity. As such, navigating these... more
In May, BuzzFeed News reporter Stephanie Lee broke a massive story based on a whistleblower complaint, filed with Stanford University, criticizing the researchers behind a controversial study on COVID-19 antibody testing. The lengthy document revealed that JetBlue’s founder, a known critic of ongoing economic shutdowns, had financially backed the... more
“Tell stories like you’re writing for Tony Fauci’s aunt.” That advice from my first mentor, A.J. Hostetler, has stuck with me for more than 20 years. And these days it comes to mind whenever I see Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in the news talking about coronavirus. “It’s my first law of science... more
Anyone who decides to switch from a traditional career in the sciences or in medicine to science writing may find the uncertainty of such a prospect daunting. It’s no secret that science writing is seldom a path to riches. But immigrants and children of immigrants often have an added burden: having to convince our parents that science writing is... more
En la prisa por difundir sus hallazgos sobre COVID-19, los científicos publican cada vez más manuscritos preliminares de sus estudios en la web antes de que sus colegas verifiquen la calidad de sus documentos. Estos son los pasos que los periodistas pueden tomar para decidir si cubrirlos o no, y cómo cubrir estas investigaciones no revisadas. The... more
Science journalists know the value of a good headline, lede, and nutgraf. But a striking image is just as capable of pulling readers into your story. You don’t need to be a professional photojournalist to create strong images to accompany your stories. All you need is a DSLR camera, curiosity, and courage. (Those last two go without saying—you’re... more
In some academic hospitals, medical residents treating COVID-19 patients have faced an overwhelming caseload of patients, working brutally long shifts with inadequate protective gear and little to no help from supervising physicians. Journalists Amber Gibson and Cassandra Willyard teamed up to investigate abuse of medical residents in “COVID-19... more
In covering infectious disease, Nature senior reporter Amy Maxmen keeps the focus on the scientists behind new discoveries. Six years after she wrote about the Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in 2014, Maxmen is once again writing about a viral pandemic. Here, she tells Katherine J. Wu about finding unique angles on COVID-19, how her... more
In the rush to disseminate their findings about COVID-19, scientists are increasingly posting preliminary manuscripts of their studies online before these papers are vetted for quality by their peers. Here are the steps journalists can take to decide whether and how to cover this unvetted research. The post Problems with Preprints: Covering Rough... more
Many science reporters either don’t know how to negotiate shrewdly or are afraid doing so could lead to lost opportunities. But not reading and negotiating on contracts can carry real costs. If freelance writing is your career, then honing your negotiating skills is a key to the craft. And that means understanding what terms like kill fees,... more