Since its inception in 2010, more than $350,000 has been awarded by NASW's Idea Grants program for projects that benefit science writing and its practitioners. Read more to see a list of all the awardees and their exciting science writing projects. Visit www.nasw.org/ideagrants2014 for the latest call for proposals due November 4, 2014.
Months before news broke of fraud in a gay-marriage study, it was a topic of conversation on PSR, an online forum for political scientists. Ben Lyons writes about one reporter who used it, and warns of potential pitfalls in doing so: "Entering a community of snarky, cloaked insiders can pose problems. Forums like these tend to build unspoken norms over time and treat interlopers harshly. Journalists seeking information may want to do a little research before diving in."
Nieman Storyboard annotates Jeanne Marie Laskas's first-person story about a Yuma, Ariz., gun store and the people who work and shop there: "I really wanted to understand the other side. I really and truly did. I didn’t want to get into a debate about gun rights. It was a cultural question: What is your mindset that you really truly believe in what you believe? It was really hard to find a way of doing that that wasn’t judgmental, that wasn’t silly."
In the wake of the Supreme Court's latest Obamacare ruling, Tabitha M. Powledge discusses what's likely to happen now: "President Obama and others, Sarah Kliff at Vox for one, say the ruling means the ACA is here to stay. At Kaiser Health News, Jay Hancock is not entirely sure that’s so. Several suits against the law are still pending, and Congress will go on trying to change the law." Also, reviewing PBS's First Peoples, and its tie-in to the Kennewick Man story.
As traditional news media continue their contraction, Matt DeRienzo worries that the people who do the most important work — journalists — are being forgotten: "In theory, there could be journalism without traditional media companies as we’ve known them, but there won’t be without people who do the job of journalism. So why isn’t the economic, mental and physical well-being of individual journalists, their adaptability and resiliency, a bigger part of our conversation?"
"There has been a spate of research papers recently about how and why different audiences acquire and react to news; sometimes about science and sometimes about news more generally," Rick Borchelt writes. "Two captured my attention for what they can offer science communicators as we daily confront changes in the news landscape."
Bryn Nelson riffs on the new economics of journalism, where the pay is less than lawnmowing wages and getting your point across to your readers counts for less than page views, shares, and upvotes: "Think of it as a marginally kinder and gentler 'Hunger Games' for journalists. You see, my pay is contingent on each post being in the top 10% of all articles every month. Plus, if I’m one of the lucky six writers with the most points, I earn the unheard-of bonus of $150!"
Speakers should take a cue from novelists and screenwriters by structuring their talks to build suspense and spring surprises, Denise Graveline writes: "'Breaking Bad' kept a few secrets from its audience, but for the most part it was fantastically adept at forcing Walter and Jesse into choice, into action. The same is true of 'Freedom,' or 'My Brilliant Friend,' or 'Anna Karenina,' all novels that are hard to stop reading even when it seems as if it should be easy."
Did a documentary on cholesterol-lowering statins scare people away from their medicine? Cathleen O'Grady writes that Australian researchers say it probably did: "It’s impossible to say whether it definitely was the documentary that caused the change without finding each individual and asking them what made them stop filling their prescriptions … However, the evidence does seem to point in the direction of the media scare for approximately half of those [60,000] cases."
Dan Zak reflects on his progress from nervous intern to veteran reporter in an essay that is part how-to, part confessional: "There were times when I stayed in my car instead of getting out to face the uncomfortable, or when I left a community meeting without talking to a person that I really should've talked to. That's a special kind of journalist shame. I was young. And in that way I am still young sometimes." Reaction from Mike Feinsilber.