NASW Business, Old and New

In addition to hot coffee, fresh muffins, and glazed danishes, the NASW Business Meeting offered both an opportunity to learn about the progress of current NASW projects and the development of new ones. Many of the brief presentations centered on the importance of sharing information helpful to honing a science writer's craft. The meeting also gave new members the chance to meet and talk with board members, as well as socialize with other attendees.

One project in the works is an online database — to be accessible on the NASW web site — that will provide a forum for discussion among freelancers. By participating in this "marketplace" of ideas, freelancers can recount their personal stories, as well as share tips on how to succeed in the freelance world.

Another project in its embryonic stages is the development of a participation-based website (to be accessible on the NASW homepage) along the lines of a "wiki" — that is, a website that permits visitors to add, edit, or remove content. There, members can discuss topics as varied as "ways to cover a scientific meeting" to methods of gathering vital — and often elusive — information for their stories.

In addition, representatives from the World Federation of Science Writers stressed the need for better communication among science journalists from different countries — particularly developing ones — which underscored the value of science journalism as an international profession.

Other topics included discussion of awards for NASW members as well as new fellowship opportunities. Ruth Winter, a book columnist for Science Writers (NASW's newsletter) received a Diane McGurgan award for her 27-year dedication to the publication. And through its Golden Fund, part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the NASW secured a grant to award ten scholarships to undergraduates to attend the next AAAS annual meeting.

To a new NASW member, attending the business meeting might seem like walking in on the middle of a conversation. But by approaching the presenters after their speeches, he can bring himself up to speed on what was discussed. And all attendees will be reminded that they're part of a community whose goal is to celebrate the delight — and subdue the pain — of writing that awesome scientific story.

Julie Leibach is completing a Master's degree from the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University. She hopes to make a niche for herself in the magazine or broadcast world of science journalism after she graduates in December 2006.

Oct. 28, 2006

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