Do you have a great idea for a science writing resource? Are you a member of a local science-writing group with big plans for an important project or workshop that has insufficient funding? In the last six years, the National Association of Science Writers has funded 135 projects worth over $450,000 as part of the Idea Grants program.
Since its inception in 2010, more than $400,000 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.
Liza Gross writes about the reporting behind her story on the risks facing workers at California state psychiatric hospitals, including her struggles to collect data and do interviews: "State facilities don’t allow reporters on the wards to interview staff or patients, outside of official tours. One psychiatrist likened the situation to North Korea. And getting access to documents, records and statistics to answer this question proved difficult."
A new website called EveryCRSReport.com is making the work product of the Congressional Research Service available to everybody. The site now holds more than 8,000 current CRS reports: "It’s every CRS report that’s available on Congress’s internal website. We redact the phone number, email address, and names of virtually all the analysts from the reports. We add disclaimer language regarding copyright and the role CRS reports are intended to play. That’s it."
Therese Walsh uses an interview clip with the actor who played the sadistic Captain Hadley in Shawshank Redemption as a starting point to discuss how some characters are symbols rather than fully formed, sympathetic beings: "Interesting thoughts, no? Narrative as memory play, skewed purposefully to one side because the point-of-view character thinks about another character in black-and-white terms, therefore that character can be portrayed as black and white."
Four cities in Colorado and California have ballot issues to tax sugary drinks, and Tabitha M. Powledge summarizes some surprising sources of support and opposition: "Writing about a new study (free to read) published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Kerry Lauerman reported at To Your Health that nearly 100 health and medical groups have accepted money from Coke and Pepsi." Also, how this ususual election campaign is raising American stress levels.
A recent academic study suggests that newspapers would have been better off sticking with their print editions instead of trying to migrate to the web, Jack Shafer writes: "For years, the standard view in the newspaper industry has been that print newspapers will eventually evolve into online editions and reconvene the mass audience newspapers enjoy there. But that’s not what’s happening." Other views from Steve Buttry, Mathew Ingram, and Benjamin Mullin.
Washington Post editors are trying to stop story bloat via rewards, Benjamin Mullin writes: "Editor-reporter duos who turn in a front-page enterprise story under 1,000 words are awarded the 'Brevity Cup,' a distinction that comes with drinks out with a managing editor. The first winners, reporter Ann Marimow and editor Mary Pat Flaherty, won for a front-page story about a court battle over a D.C. gun ban." Also, Roy Peter Clark on writing short.
Most of us serve as the first and perhaps only fact-checker of our own work. “Learning how to fact-check can help writers become better reporters,” Brooke Borel asserts in The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking. Fact-checking is reporting in reverse, she says. You need to fact-check everything, even the thing you just checked last week, and even things you think you know are true, she insists. You also need to identify what’s missing, and whether that undermines the accuracy of your work. Borel tells how to check facts from a variety of sources, including analogies, product claims, press releases, and maps and atlases. She also offers tips on keeping good records of your sources.