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Wednesday, 29 November 2006

EPSRC joins RSS feeding frenzy

Only last week we were talking to the EPSRC's press person in chief, Jane Reck, about RSS feeds. "Soon," she said. Quick as a flash, they have added one for EPSRC Press Releases.

You may have to search for the link. It isn't on the press releases page. Click the above link, or look on their home page.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Templeton Fellowships in Science & Religion

The deadline for applications for Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science & Religion is 15 December. There are details of the fellowships and how to apply here.

Monday, 20 November 2006

More best science books

Science books, as a category, go in and out of favour. At the moment, we seem to be on a high point, with plenty of web sites offering their "best of" lists. This page of Science/Technology Book Reviews describes its list as "a few of the best, most thought-provoking popular science texts to be found. From extraterrestrial life and quantum computing to nanotechnology and artificial intelligence."

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Greatest Science Books?

This time Discover magazine is at the best book game with its pitch for the 25 Greatest Science Books of All-Time. Believe that and you'll believe anything.

And why 25? A real scientist would have picked a prime number.

Monday, 13 November 2006

Journalism Fellowships in Science & Religion

These fellowships have proved controversial in the past, but that's no reason not to pass on the news of this year chance to apply for a Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science & Religion. The choice is yours.

"The Fellowships enable journalists to pursue an intensive two-month course of study in issues of science and religion. The programme includes three weeks of seminars at the University of Cambridge in the UK, featuring eminent authorities in the field. Fellows will be paid a stipend and travel expenses to Cambridge. The awards are open to journalists with a minimum of three years’ experience; priority will be given to mid-career and senior journalists. The programme is looking for journalists who show promise of making a significant contribution to the public’s understanding of the complex issues in this field."

Winners of the 2006 AAAS Science Journalism Awards

The AAAS has just announced the winners of its 2006 AAAS Science Journalism Awards.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

African Science Communication Conference

Science communicators in the northern hemisphere can get some summer Sun by going to the African Science Communication Conference in December. ASCC 2006 will happen at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa from 5 - 7 December.

They've just put up their draft programme. This includes a session on journalism, including: Manoj Patairiya, of National Council for Science & Technology Communication, India, on Scientist – Journalist conflict: A barrier to science communication; and Diran Onifade, of the World Federation of Science Journalists, Nigeria, on Professionalising science journalism in Africa.

Friday, 10 November 2006

Naked Scientist wins Science Communication award

As a fan of Naked Scientist, it is good to see that they have won a science communication award. The podders from Silicon Fen have picked up a Science Communication award from the Biosciences Federation (BSF).

Sponsored by Pfizer, the award "recognises research-active bioscientists from UK universities and institutes who make an outstanding and consistent contribution to communicating science to the public".

The £1000 award went to Dr Christopher Smith from the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge. Somehow, Chris manages to put together this entertaining podcast while also working as a clinical virologist at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. In his spare spare time, he also helps the journal Nature in its own podcasting.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

European Medical Journalists’ Prize 2006

The Bayer Press Server, BAYNEWS, has details of the European Medical Journalists’ Prize 2006. You will be pleased to know that "Scrupulously researched articles dealing with a topic from the worlds of medicine or health care in a critical, comprehensible yet objective manner have an excellent chance of winning the 2006 European Journalists’ Prize."

Bayer HealthCare AG, the sponsor, is working with the Association of German Medical Journalists, but it really is intended to be European. The detailed announcement says that "the European Journalists’ Prize is intended to reflect the significance of medical news reporting both within the borders of Germany and beyond".

The rules (pdf file) say that "Work published during the year in question may be submitted in German or in the language of the country in which it appeared with an English translation. The submitted work must be intended for the public."

The closing date is 31 December. "The prize is endowed with EUR 7,500 and may be split."

NICE work if you can get it

It seems that the pharmaceuticals industry has interesting ways of getting writers to turn up for public hearings.

Over at the Center for Media and Democracy they have an item entitled Drug Company Takes Rap for Burson-Marsteller's Cash Offer to Journalists. This reports that a PR company offered hacks £200 as an inducement to attend a public hearing before the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which was considering an appeal against one of its decisions on some drug or another.

It seems that the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), a subset of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, has ruled that the drug company was being naughty. According to their web site, the case deals with "Alleged payment to journalist". The the ruling (a pdf file) suggests that there was a misunderstanding between the drugs maker and its PR company. That didn't wash with the PMCPA.

Monday, 6 November 2006

Junk science on the BBC?

The Register, a quirky tech-heads web site that mars an otherwise good approach with a lazy habit of describing any scientist as a boffin, not to mention other signs of a limited vocabulary, has weighed into the BBC and its science output. The site has provoked a bout of comments from readers along the lines of "they did science better when I was young".

The programme, annoyingly called a program by this English web site, that sparked off the discussion, Null points for BBC Horizon's junk science, was something called "Human v2.0". This prompted Andrew Orlowski to write an item BBC abandons science. His view of Horizon is that "instead of re-examing its approach, the series' producers have taken the bold step of abandoning science altogether".

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Sunday, 5 November 2006

Tony Blair gets science

Just in case you missed it, the Prime Minister of the UK has gone all science on us. The evidence is in the speech Our Nation's Future - Science he delivered last week to "the Royal Society in Oxford".

There was even a sideswipe at the media in there. (Now there's a surprise.) But it wasn't at the science media so much as the rest of the pack who "may demand certainty" that "any new technology is 'absolutely safe'" as the PM put it, before adding that "science cannot provide" that guarantee and "we should not pretend it can".

He even plugged a couple of science books. "We have seen recently some excellent popular books - Steve Jones, Richard Dawkins, Steven Hawking, Bill Bryson, whose A Short History Of Nearly Everything sold over two million copies and which was sent to every secondary school. The BBC and the Open University have some excellent science services." Wonder why he didn't mention any science writers.

Does the Sun spin?

"Award-winning Sun journalist John Perry" will be one of the combatants at an at event at the Science Museum on 9 November.

"The event promises to be a heated discussion into how scientific research becomes news. Questions raised will include: just how accurate is a science story? How did it get there? Why do some stories make the front page while others stay within academic circles? Should the media take a share of the blame for blunders such as the MMR jab?"

While you are there, you can buy copies of Plus Giant Leaps "a collaboration between the Sun and the Science Museum to explain great moments in science in Sun style".

Writing science for tabloids can be a heck of a lot harder than writing for what were once known as "broadsheets," so the book could be an instructive read.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Press Gazette - UK Journalism News and Journalism Jobs

A piece in UK Press Gazette "British Medical Journal unveils podcast plans" tells us that the venerable quacks bed-time reading is to join the podworld. But not for them some hapless member of staff behind the microphone. "The programmes will feature broadcasters including former Today presenter Sue MacGregor and the BBC's Case Notes presenter, Graham Easton."