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ScienceWriters meeting coverage

Go abroad, brush death, write a great story, and stuff your pockets with cash

Of the four panelists, Apoorva Mandavilli, a freelance journalist formerly of Nature, managed to stay the truest to this panel’s title: “International reporting: how to NOT screw it up.” Though to be completely truthful, the whole panel might as well have been called “Foreign reporting: Wherein things are already screwed up … Good luck!”

How to start writing about science for kids

If there was one take-home message from the workshop on “How to start writing about science for kids,” it might be that kids are people too. Sure, they are typically smaller people, but they have rich inner lives and are more sophisticated than we think, said panelist Jude Isabella. So don’t talk down to them. That said, if kids are your audience, you will not get away with long-winded, meandering “adult” prose. Remember those lessons from writing 101.

The perils of P-values: How to be smart when writing about stats

Regina Nuzzo speaks in the

A 2010 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that exercising 60 minutes a day leads to less weight gain over time. The study, which involved more than 34,000 women, prompted widespread media coverage. Sure, p < 0.001. But the actual effect was less than a half pound difference over three years! That is what Kristin Sanaini, freelance science writer and professor at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, discovered when she dug into the paper.

Beyond the news release grind: Connecting with the public as PIOs

For any good public information officer (PIO), the goal is pretty simple: tell people about the research going on at your institution. Typically, this means writing a press release and sending it to journalists. But PIOs are increasingly looking for alternative ways to connect with the public. NASW’s session “Beyond the News Release Grind,” moderated by Karen Kreeger, senior science communications manager for Penn Medicine, offered many creative and powerful ideas.

Supporting diversity in science writing

Despite small steps forward and an encouraging groundswell of concern about the issue, racism and sexism are alive and well in U.S. newsrooms, and diversity remains sorely lacking. This according to a panel of journalists who met Saturday at the NASW conference, for a lively, standing-room-only discussion on “Supporting Diversity in Science Writing.”

Media law: How to get your information and protect your work from plagiarists

“In our profession, information is currency,” says freelance science journalist Nadia Drake, introducing a small crowd of participants to a media law workshop at the NASW annual meeting in Columbus, OH. “It's what we trade in, whether you're a freelancer, staff writer, PIO, or scientist, and there are laws governing how you can get some of that information.”

How to gain clips and pitch to non-science publications

The “Think Small: How to Write for Local and Non-Science Publications

For early career science writers, scoring a byline in a national science magazine can be a daunting prospect. One solution: start small.

Making passion projects happen

So you have this great idea. You’ve looked into every corner of the Internet and no one else has done it. You can’t get the idea out of your head, but how do you make it pay? You have a passion project! “It’s important to find time to do projects that are important to you but that you aren’t sure are going to pay off,” said Brooke Borel, who moderated the session “Making passion projects happen” at the ScienceWriters2014 meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Borel was the first of five science writers who shared their experiences to a packed room. The speakers’ stories were as varied as their projects.

ScienceWriters Awards Night

The National Association of Science Writers honored some of the year’s best science writing at its annual ScienceWriters Awards Night gala Oct. 18 at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, OH. The Science in Society Journalism Awards, sponsored by the National Association of Science Writers, honored journalists in five categories: book, science reporting, long form, science reporting for a local or regional market, and commentary and opinion.

Blogging for institutions

Starting a blog for a university or institution requires convincing the higher-ups and sometimes breaking away from the serious tone that is common among research publications. “Don’t think of it as a blog. Think of it as a really light, lean, and flexible web platform. When you pitch it, call it a really cheap way to disseminate information,” said Carol Clark, senior science communicator at Emory University and a panelist for Saturday’s session titled, “Blogging for institutions.”