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. Visit www.nasw.org/ideagrants2014 for the latest call for proposals due November 4, 2015.
We’ve heard a lot about self-publishing new books. But what about self-republishing out-of-print books? Having some time and some available books, Jeff Hecht tested the process, and came to the conclusion it can work, but not for all books, and not in the formats used by e-book readers unless you have a clean digital copy. This article shares what he's learned the hard way to save you time and trouble.
There are many players in the rapid rise and spectacular fall of the blood-testing startup Theranos, but Nick Bilton points his finger at the news media: "There were no tough questions about whether Theranos’s technology actually worked; just praise. When it seemed that the tech press had vetted [founder Elizabeth] Holmes, she subsequently went mainstream. She got her New Yorker profile, and her face appeared on the cover of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, among others."
Mike Rosenberg noticed something that disturbed him during his most recent journalism job hunt: "For every one job result for a reporter, photojournalist or TV producer, you’ll get 10 results for jobs available to people with journalism backgrounds or degrees to switch careers toward marketing, advertising and — most of all — public relations." He researched further and learned that there are now 4.8 PR people per journalist, more than twice the ratio of 15 years ago.
Twitter and Facebook may be excellent tools for gathering news, but they have a downside, Kevin Rawlinson writes — they're also an excellent breeding ground for fake news stories: "Those working in newsrooms talk of dubious stories being tolerated because, in the words of one, some senior editors think 'a click is a click, regardless of the merit of a story.' And, if the story does turn out to be false, it’s simply a chance for another bite at the cherry."
Michelle Nijhuis examines the evidence and concludes that the bard was one of us: "Journalists — and all kinds of writers, fiction and non — are constantly borrowing authority, becoming temporary experts on a place, or a field of knowledge, or a group of people. We learn as much as we can as fast as we can, mostly by asking lots and lots of nosy questions … We’re serial experts, and professional amateurs. I suspect Shakespeare was too." Also, some words he gave us.
Science writer John R. Platt writes about his efforts to change the gender balance in his reporting and interviews Kate McCarthy of the Women’s Media Center, which has a service aimed at helping journalists find more female experts for their stories: "The ultimate objective here, McCarthy pointed out, shouldn’t just be to have more female sources, but to add more nuance to reporting. You can’t objectively cover the world, she says, if you ignore half of the population."
When the Idaho Statesman won the release of 8,000 documents from a health care antitrust case, Audrey Dutton was tasked to make sense of them. She explains how she did it with software: "I knew these documents held secrets. I knew they'd help our readers better understand the inner workings of health care. But I didn’t know how to organize them and make sense of hundreds of PDFs, especially without the context lawyers provide in a courtroom explaining their importance."
A new report from the Knight Foundation suggests that First Amendment defenders may need new financial support now that many of their traditional backers have fallen onto hard times, Jonathan Peters writes: "The news industry, especially newspapers, has shaped American media law for decades by paying the bills to bring the big cases — to unseal court papers, to open meetings, to protect confidential sources, and to compel the disclosure of public records."
One side effect of the newspaper business's decline is an editor shortage, Alison MacAdam writes. Whereas daily journalism once served as a training ground for young editors, today's fast-paced digital version devalues editing, and that's a shame: "Editing may not be sexy. It may not nourish the ego. But (do I need to say it?) great editing makes every story more distinctive and memorable. Editors give stories structure, they elevate characters and they hone focus."