ScienceWriters meeting coverage

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ScienceWriters meeting coverage

Pitch slam for ScienceWriters2016 began in a bustling room of science writers of all ages with various levels of experience, many of whom came prepared with story ideas. A panel of seven editors from the Atlantic, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Motherboard, Nature, COSMOS, and Aeon were eager to listen to these pitches.

Recognizing a red flag and following your gut when ethics is in question leaves a lot of science writers questioning what is or is not actually acceptable. Debates and anecdotes were encouraged during the session “Ethics in Today’s science writing landscape: A community conversation.” This plenary session kicked off the first of 17 sessions for the day, and more than 600 attendees showed up to watch two long-time freelance journalists square off.

What happens in the Happiest Place on Earth doesn't always stay at the Happiest Place on Earth. The measles outbreak at Disneyland this past spring infected 147 people in the U.S. and changed the dominant narrative on child vaccination. The celebrity spokespeople have quieted down, and doctors have become more adamant about vaccinating young patients. The panel took a retrospective look at where the media went wrong, and what science writers can learn from the story.

Jeanne Erdmann credits a $20,000 Idea Grant in 2011 with enabling her and co-founder Siri Carpenter to take their recently launched website The Open Notebook to the next level. Along the way, the process of writing and revising that first grant helped them to better explain how the money could make a significant difference for their online science writing resource, which has since garnered subsequent grants from NASW and other organizations. “Every time you write a grant, it really helps you to crystalize your idea,” said Erdmann, who spoke on a panel outlining the logistics and benefits of pursuing the funding.

From the puzzle of invasive beetles to the mystery of undiagnosed disease, ScienceWriters Awards Night celebrated the role of journalists as detectives. The year’s winners for excellent science writing — selected by the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing — accepted awards at an Oct. 10 ceremony in Cambridge, Mass.

The post-publication discovery that you’ve made a reporting error can feel a lot like Wile E. Coyote’s shock after realizing he’s run off a cliff, says National Geographic deputy research director Brad Scriber. Even after his endless pursuit of Road Runner leads him off solid ground, the cartoon villain continues to speed through the air, until he looks down, understands his predicament and plummets.