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.
If confusion is the first step to knowledge, FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) users must be geniuses. Fee categories. Pre-determination agency actions. Multitrack processing. Administrative appeals. Glomar responses. In some ways, the FOIA is as impenetrable as it is helpful, but a new resource wants to change all that: FOIA Wiki, which launched in beta Oct. 3.
Web designers have more tools than ever for adjusting colors on their websites, and Kevin Marks says that's not always a good thing. Marks delves into details of typography to show how some websites sacrifice legibility for looks: "There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter. Typography may not seem like a crucial design element, but it is."
Journalism professor Matt Carroll, a former Boston Globe Spotlight team member, publishes his TED talk about the stakes as investigative reporting suffers in the media's decline: "In 1990, there were 57,000 journalists covering school boards, crime and doing investigations. Now there’s a few more than 30,000 reporters out there. Think about that. Half as many reporters as back in 1990. That makes it tough to cover high school football, never mind do investigations."
Prompted by some off-target comments on one of her own stories, Christie Aschwanden wades into the world of Internet comments and concludes that the story itself might not be the motivator for many commenters: "I’ve begun to think that many comments sections, including ours, are like a book club where members routinely fail to finish the book. The reading material is merely a starting point — the real purpose is to gather together to discuss interesting ideas."
Among the many stories from Fidel Castro's death is one from James Scott Linville about the time he tried to get George Plimpton to publish excerpts from Che Guevara’s The Motorcycle Diaries. Plimpton tried to brush him off. When Linville persisted, Plimpton told a story about his visit to Ernest Hemingway right after the Cuban revolution, and what he saw there: "In the twenty years I knew him, this remained the only time George refused to look at a piece of writing."
Tabitha M. Powledge unloads on writer Frank Bures and his Slate post — excerpted from his recent book — about premenstrual syndrome: "He declares that PMS is a 'cultural syndrome,' or 'cultural idiom of distress.' That doesn’t mean, he says, that the physical symptoms are imaginary, only that they are prompted by beliefs and expectations. Well, you can imagine. Nearly 400 comments so far. Quintessential mansplaining, as several commenters of the other sex have noted."
Freelance writer and Freedom of Information Act fan Philip Eil has a suggestion for reporters worried about a Trump administration — redouble their efforts to use FOIA in their reporting: "The FOIA, notably, places no limit on the number of requests an agency can receive or a person can submit. And it is with this fact in mind — and Trump’s well-documented fondness for superlatives — that I suggest we make Donald Trump the most FOIA-requested president in U.S. history."
Ivan Oransky reviews the EurekAlert hack, the FDA's manipulation of reporters, and other news to argue that embargoes are just plain bad: "It’s clear that a lot of the power of embargoes would go away if journalists stopped believing they had to publish a story or post a blog the minute a new study came out. Sure, I get the value of a news peg. I used to run a wire service, Reuters Health, that covers health. But it warps the public’s understanding of how science works."