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Campaign to help African journalists cover Ebola

The World Federation of Science Journalists recently launched a campaign to help African journalists report on the Ebola crisis. The funds will provide needed equipment and supplies for reporters and local radio stations, typically the most trusted media source in rural regions, to cover the crisis. You can read more about WFSJ's efforts and donate here.

The hardships of war-zone freelancers

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The Islamic State's execution of Steven Sotloff and James Foley should prompt news organizations to improve their treatment of the correspondents who provide their foreign coverage, Tom A. Peter writes in New Republic: "When people ask me about the stress of covering wars, more often than not what comes to mind is the two and a half years I spent working in Afghanistan when I paid about $30,000 out of pocket to cover basic work expenses that were never reimbursed."

Recapping the Nobel science prizes

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Tabitha M. Powledge reviews the reviews of the new Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine. Physics was the star, she decides: "It is certainly true that the hubbub surrounding the physics Prize was this year's noisiest, what with laments over the researchers who were left out. Plus, of course, Peter Higgs's elusiveness. His vanishing act rivals J.D. Salinger's and therefore guarantees that, like Salinger, Higgs is omnipresent in his absence."

About Science's open access “sting”

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John Bohannon wrote a bogus scientific paper and submitted versions of it to 304 open-access journals. More than half accepted it, flaws and all, Bohannon reports in Science. Discussion: Ivan Oransky notes that some of the journals are owned by major publishers like Elsevier and Wolters Kluwer. Also, John Hawks of PLOS, which rejected the paper; Phil Davis; Curt Rice.

About PopSci's commenting manifesto

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Popular Science has shut off its website comments, citing research on their dangers as justification. PopSci's Suzanne LaBarre ties uncivil comments to "a politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise [that] has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics." But Marie-Claire Shanahan says the studies weren't that solid. More: CJR, the Atlantic.

California paves way for open access

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Megan Geuss at arstechnica provides some background on the University of California's move to free public access for future research articles by faculty members at its 10 campuses: "Making the open access license automatic for its faculty leverages the power of the institution … against the power of publishers who would otherwise lock content behind a paywall," Geuss writes. More from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Surprising news about online comments


You might not think that the comments section of an online news story was all that important, but you'd be wrong, according to a study discussed in Science and covered by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rude comments led readers to perceive more risk in the story's subject, researchers reported. Also, from Scholarly Kitchen, evidence that a handful of commenters dominate The Guardian's website.

Behind the big publishing merger


Joseph Esposito posts on the Scholarly Kitchen about the Random House/Penguin merger and why he says it may not be good news for authors: "There will of course be huge cost savings in the back office from this merger, but perhaps the primary rationale is upstream, with the relationships with agents and authors," he writes. "A combined Penguin Random House ... would be in a position to get agents to toe the line" in fighting off efforts to raise royalties for e-books.

Waiting (again) for the big Higgs news

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Tomorrow is Independence Day in the U.S. but it's Higgs Day in the physics world. At 9 a.m. Geneva time (3 a.m. EDT), CERN will unveil its latest results; AP reports CERN will say the Higgs "almost certainly does exist," but hasn't yet been "discovered." For background, watch this BBC program. Also see these posts on Quantum Diaries. Plus, Adam Mann on why a Higgs confirmation could ruin physics.

Is anyone covering the Rio meeting?

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Not if Curtis Brainard's post on CJR's The Observatory is any indication. Two decades after the world was focused on the first Rio climate conference, which yielded frameworks on climate change and biodiversity, this year's version — which starts today — is getting little attention: "Google News already delivers around five million results for 'Rio+20,' but it’s clear that many outlets aren’t as interested [in] the international powwows as they used to be."