ScienceWriters excerpts

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  • Prominent scientists, science communicators, and skeptic activists, including Bill Nye “the Science Guy,” physicist Lawrence Krauss, Cosmos co-creator Ann Druyan, and many others are calling on the news media to stop using the word “skeptic” when referring to those who refuse to accept the reality of climate change, and instead refer to them by what they really are: science deniers.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • Science writers have always had to cope with angry readers or industries who don’t like their stories. Responding to criticism is part of the job. But these days journalists, PIOs, and scientists find themselves facing personal attacks and even death threats. Just writing about global warming, GMOs, or vaccines can trigger personal attacks or lawsuits. Women are also subjected to harassment, stalking, threats of rape, and barrages of pornography.