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Monday, 22 December 2008

WFSJ fights CNN cuts in science writing

The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) has posted a letter on its web site complaining about "CNN's shortsighted decision to cut its science, technology and environment unit in one fell swoop".

The letter, Science Journalists mobilized to fight CNN decision, is addressed to CNN. Pallab Ghosh, BBC science correspondent and past chairman of the ABSW, signed the letter on behalf of the WFSJ. Other signatories are from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, the US National Association of the Science Writers and the Society of Environmental Journalists.

They say that "It is difficult for us to imagine why CNN, which has earned a justifiably strong reputation for its science journalism in the past, has opted to widen the gap in science coverage rather than strive to fill it." They hold up CNN's action as "an unfortunate symbol of recent widespread cutbacks in specialty science journalism".

"In wielding this ax," the letter says, "your network has lost an experienced and highly regarded group of science journalists at a time when science coverage could not be more important in our national and international discourse." The "the wholesale dismantling of the science unit," decision, they add, " calls into question CNN's commitment to bringing the most informative science news to the general public, including the science-minded younger audience".

The WFSJ's blog item also has several links to other web coverage of the decision.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Recrutiment: Publications Editor and Scientific Writer

The Institute of Cancer Research

Academic Services
Chelsea, London

The Institute of Cancer Research (a College of the University of London) is a world-class cancer research organisation with HEFCE Research Assessment Exercise ratings of international excellence across all of its research programmes. In partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, we form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe, dedicated to research that extends from epidemiology, genetics and molecular biology, through drug discovery and development, to cancer diagnosis and patient treatment.

The Publications Editor and Scientific Writer will be responsible for the preparation and editing of content for The Institute’s scientific print and online publications. These include The Institute’s Annual Review, Annual Research Report, Postgraduate Prospectus and website. The post-holder will also write and edit content for interactive educational materials aimed at scientists, healthcare professionals and the general public.

You will be a motivated science graduate with experience in science or medical communication, or journalism. In this role, your excellent written and verbal communication will help disseminate the research, clinical and educational activities of The Institute. You will be:

  • Experienced - with proven skills in researching, writing and editing scientific content and an ability to adapt your writing styles for different media and audiences
  • Confident - your excellent communication and negotiation skills will enable you to develop innovative ideas for content, meet with key scientists and clinicians, and help make the science at the forefront of cancer research readily accessible to all
  • Organised – you will be able to organise, prioritise and work under pressure to meet key deadlines
  • Creative - you will have a flair for content design and presentation and a keen eye for detail

The starting salary will be in the range £25,937 to £28,478 p.a. dependant upon skills and experience. This post also benefits from a contributory “final salary” pension scheme and generous leave entitlement.

Informal enquiries about the post can be made to Ms. Natalie Hutton via email at Please DO NOT send your application to Ms. Hutton; CVs, together with the names and addresses of two referees, must be submitted in line with the instructions below.

For further particulars and details of how to apply, please visit our website at: Alternatively you may call our 24 hour recruitment line on 020 7153 5475 quoting reference number C197.

Closing date: 7 January 2009

Interviews to be held: 14 January 2009

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Medical Writer wanted!

Medical Writer (Ref 969)

International Biomaterials Company (Bone repair)
World leader in its market

Our client, formed in 2001, is an orthobiologics company and a world leader in synthetic bone graft technologies. Their mission is to provide surgeons with superior, proprietary, bone graft solutions, helping them to improve clinical outcomes and patient quality of life.

The HQ and manufacturing facility are based in Greater London, England, with the U.S. operations located on the East Coast. Products are being used in Europe, the United States and Australasia for spinal fusions, bone tumor void filling, fractures and joint revision.

On behalf of our client we are now looking for a Medical Writer to be located either in London, UK, or Boston, USA.

Your mission: You who will be required to research and write copy across a broad range of healthcare related written communications (medical, scientific and technical), meeting the needs of relevant customers (internal and external) and working effectively with colleagues and suppliers.

You main responsibilities will include implementing briefs in a constructive and creative manner, setting and meeting high editorial standards and produce relevant, high quality accurate and informative material. You will undertake necessary research and ensure that all materials comply with the relevant legal rules, and internal and external codes of practice.

Where appropriate you will be participating in project teams, providing ad-hoc support to VP Marketing OUS and VP Research and Development. You will be required to keep up to date with matters related to the medical devices industry.

Your profile: We are looking for an effective and confident communicator with a high standard of written English. You will have a life science degree or background and a medical or journalism qualification and ideally project management experience. You are a committed and self-motivated professional with a pharmaceutical background, and experience in the medical devices industry (orthopaedics). You are an ambitious team player who has experience working with KOLs, surgeons and scientific or technical researchers. You pay attention to detail and are computer literate. You must work well in a team and have good time management skills.

This is an exceptional opportunity to join a fast growing company that can lead the orthopeadic sector.

For a confidential, more detailed information exchange, candidates should email their CV with full contact details to Helen Detraz
at quoting Ref: 969

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Science Reporting by Press Release

Cristine Russell, one of the more capable science journalist on either side of the pond, she used to be on the staff of the Washington Post, has an interesting take on the use of press releases in the trade. She has written about this in Science Reporting by Press Release in the Columbia Journalism Review. Cris describes "the degree to which some reporters rely on press releases and public relations offices as sources for stories" as a " dirty little secret of journalism".

Cris's article has details of various examples of the phenomenon. For example, she describes a discussion panel at the National Association of Science Writers where a topic of conversation was a press release, “Living fossils have hot sex,” from the University of Utah. This was picked up by, among others, Reuters, New Scientist and ABC (Australia). The irony, perhaps, is that the author of the release, Lee J. Siegel, has, as Cris puts it, had a "a long science journalism career with The Associated Press and Salt Lake Tribune" before he went to work for the university.

Like any good hack, Cris actually interviewed Lee about the phenomenon. He too expressed concern, complaining that “some news services just rewrite the press releases without interviewing anyone and don’t make clear the story is from a news release”.

The item provoked a thoughtful debate with comments from a number of equally eminent science journalists. One comment that struck home was the puzzlement in one comment about the failure of big media outlets to "link their own stories to the various press releases that their reporters had at hand". After all, it doesn't take much more than a few seconds with Google News to track down such references. Cris does not make this mistake. Her article provides a link to the original Utah press release.

Unfortunately, the excellent discussion does not seem to include any comments from perpetrators of this crime against humanity. Lee does step in to provide some balance, but it would have been nice to see more defence of use of press releases. Surely someone must have a good word to say for them.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Pharmaceutical Researcher/Pharmaceutical Analyst

Location: Offices in Berks, M4 Corridor, but position will require some home based working. Some international travel essential.
Salary: Competitive package

The Company:

Our client is a small but highly successful pharmaceutical business research agency that has built a solid reputation through hard work and dedication. Efficiently serving companies on both sides of the Atlantic and across Europe, they strive to be a consistently creative and proactive organisation. Indeed, it’s this philosophy that’s enabled them to become a UK leader in their industry. Proudly independent and dynamic, they’re now seeking to grow their global research capabilities through expansion in the areas of languages, methodologies and skills.

The Role:

Your contribution will be crucial to the success of our client’s portfolio of customers, as you will actively develop a strong knowledge and understanding of their competitors. This will be achieved via research: primarily online and by telephone. Here, you will deploy outstanding communication skills, as you’ll be interviewing a broad spectrum of people across the world. You will also bring creative flair and innovation to your research, together with a highly organised and tenacious approach. Professional and systematic in your work, you must consistently meet strict deadlines.

What we’re looking for:

The importance of this role means you will have a proven track record in a pharmaceutical, clinical or medical role and ideally have worked in the areas of nephrology, cardiovascular, diabetes, oncology or respiratory. This will be coupled with first-class interviewing and relationship-building abilities and, preferably, previous competitor monitoring experience. Possessing at least one other language, preferably German, French, Spanish and/or Russian, you must also be able to manage several projects simultaneously and know how to handle sensitive information.

To apply:
Please send your full CV and convincing covering letter to