The World Federation of Science Journalists is offering scholarships to attend the Abel Prize award ceremony and related events in Oslo from May 18-25, 2015. The winners will be selected by the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) and will have travel, hotel, and meal expenses covered. For more information and to apply by May 1, visit the WFSJ website.
It might be tempting to use a song's lyrics in your story and not bother securing the rights, but Helen Sedwick warns that powerful music publishers can make you regret your actions: "This is one case where it is cheaper to get permission than to ask forgiveness. The cost of getting permission to use lyrics in self-published books is often affordable, typically between $10 and $50." Sedwick explains how to find out who to ask for rights — which is seldom the songwriter.
In the wake of the Rolling Stone debacle, Monica Guzman surveys journalists about what keeps them awake at night, and finds that the answer is fear. And with the pace of journalism growing ever faster, thanks to tweets and blog posts and comments, the risks of making a career-ending error are growing too, dangerously so: "In journalism, as in life, some fear is necessary. But too much fear is paralyzing. Are you too afraid to do good journalism? Or not afraid enough?"
It was 1836 and the first installments of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, had sold only about 400 copies. By the end of the following year, Charles Dickens was a household name and his monthlies were selling 40,000 copies. Nina Martyris explains: "What changed? It was in this fourth installment that readers met Sam Weller, a cheerful young bootblack with a distinctive cockney idiolect — a character, in other words, in whom many readers could recognize themselves."
Chinese researchers incited new debate over genetic engineering of human embryos with a report that Tabitha M. Powledge says the major journals shunned: "The new paper appeared in the Springer journal Protein & Cell and is open-access. Why, you ask, not in Nature or Science, which loooooove hot papers? These top journals do want hot papers, they do, but apparently don’t want them as hot as this one. Both journals turned it down – on, it is said, ethical grounds."
More big news from the American Copy Editors Society annual conference. Ben Zimmer writes that purists may be giving ground on the use of "they" as a substitute for "he or she" and other kludges: "English sorely lacks a gender-neutral singular third-person pronoun, and 'they' has for centuries been pressed into service for that purpose, much to the grammarians’ chagrin. Now, it seems, those who have held the line against singular 'they' may be easing their stance."