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ScienceWriters, Spring 2015

How BICEP2's evidence of cosmic inflation turned into dust; a preview of ScienceWriters2015 and NASW's bid to host the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists in 2017; a science writer adjusts to life on an island; what happens if you die without a will; how science communicators can confront changes in the news landscape; a plan to reinforce the structure of science writing; plus columns, NASW news, and new books by NASW members. Full text visible to NASW members only.

From ScienceWriters: How libel-proof is your writing?

ScienceWriters Winter 2014-15 cover

Trial-court cases do not make new law, but they can act in much the same way as canaries in mines — as sentinels of problems. That’s why every one who writes for a living should know what libel is, and how to avoid it if possible.

From ScienceWriters: Idea grant leads to investigative reporting series

ScienceWriters Winter 2014-15 cover

In March 2011, High Country News was awarded a $2,500 NASW Idea Grant to fund customized, in-depth training in investigative reporting techniques for its editorial staff. In the summer of 2011, Doug Haddix of Investigative Reporters and Editors spent two days at the magazine’s headquarters in Paonia, Colo., and gave a crash course in investigative story planning and execution. For some HCN writers and editors, it was a useful introduction to investigative reporting; for others, a welcome refresher.

From ScienceWriters: Retraction Watch receives $400,000 grant

ScienceWriters Winter 2014-15 cover

After more than four years, 2,000 posts, and incredible responses from the scientific community, Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky announce that their organization has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to expand the work of Retraction Watch. The goal of the grant — $200,000 per year for two years — is to create a comprehensive and freely available database of retractions, something that doesn’t now exist.

From ScienceWriters: Understanding IRS filing extensions

ScienceWriters Winter 2014-15 cover

Tuesday, April 15, is the deadline for filing Form 1040 for calendar year 2014. It can prove expensive to miss the deadline because the law authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to impose a substantial, nondeductible penalty. Generally, the penalty is five percent of the balance due (the amount that remains unpaid after subtractions for taxes previously paid through withholdings from wages and quarterly payments of estimated taxes). The IRS charges five percent for each month, or portion of a month, that a 1040 is late.

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ScienceWriters, Winter 2014-15

The return of HealthNewsReview.org; coverage of ScienceWriters2014 in Columbus, Ohio; scientists and science communicators ask for better labeling of climate change deniers; Retraction Watch gets a $400,000 grant; how to libel-proof your writing; NASW funds specialized training for a small regional newspaper; getting an extension to file your federal tax return; plus columns, book reviews, and the annual NASW budget report. Full text visible to NASW members only.

From ScienceWriters: Pitching your book proposal to an agent

How do you find an agent? What material should you send? Those questions on NASW-Books generated this recent exchange and tips from NASW authors.

From ScienceWriters: Student filmmakers in vaccine/autism fray

Every school day, students at Carlsbad High tune in their classroom televisions to a news show produced by its award-winning broadcast journalism program. But no one expected the kind of attention that has lately muzzled one of its most acclaimed works — a short documentary produced by an extracurricular offshoot of the program. The movie, “Invisible Threat,” bills itself as a report on “the science of disease and the risks facing a society that is under-vaccinated.”

From ScienceWriters: Tips for paying estimated taxes

NASW members are reminded that the IRS takes a dim view of freelance writers and other self-employed individuals who miss deadlines for filing federal tax returns or the due dates for making estimated tax payments. Miss just one, says the IRS, and it might exact a sizable, nondeductible penalty, which is based on the agency’s current interest rate for back taxes.

From ScienceWriters: Tackling gender bias and sexual harassment

Science writers take a “show me the numbers” approach when tackling a tough topic. So, organizers of Solutions Summit 2014: Women in Science Writing came armed with their own data to back up recent concerns that gender bias, inequity, and sexual harassment are still holding women back.