Nominations sought for 2002 Sullivan and Perlman awards; Several rule changes announced

June 10, 2001

The American Geophysical Union seeks nominations for two annual journalism awards: the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism - Features and the David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism - News. These awards consist of a plaque and a $2,000 stipend and will be presented at AGU's 2002 Spring or Fall Meeting.

These awards recognize work that enhances public awareness and understanding of the sciences encompassed by AGU: the study of the Earth, the Sun, the solar system, and their environments and components. The Perlman Award is for work produced under deadline pressure of one week or less, while the Sullivan Award is for work produced with longer lead time. Work in any medium, except books, is eligible, as long as it was intended for and available to the general public. Work from any country and in any language is eligible. (Entries not originally in English must include an English translation.)

AGU has adopted several rule changes for the 2002 awards, resulting from suggestions made both by journalists and the independent judging committee, which recommends winners to the AGU Council. These are as follows:

Eligibility dates and deadline: The entire process has been advanced by approximately two weeks, in order to allow the judging committee sufficient time to consider the growing number of entries. For the 2002 awards, entries must first have been published between December 16, 2000, and December 15, 2001. Entries must be received at AGU no later than December 31, 2001.

One entry per person for each award: Previously, a journalist could be nominated for up to three articles (broadcasts, etc.) for each award. Since the award is for a single publication, not a body or work, this often resulted in votes being split among several excellent submissions by the same author and thus working to the detriment of that author. For the 2002 awards, therefore, a limit of one entry per person for each award has been instituted (i.e., one may still be nominated for both the Sullivan and Perlman Awards). If a journalist is nominated by third parties for more than one work, AGU will contact the nominee to determine which one entry should be retained.

Multiple authors: The previous rules prevented many collaborative efforts from being judged, as only one person could be deemed the author of an entry. That restriction has been removed: now those involved in a collaborative effort will decide who is or are the nominee(s). Only one plaque and one $2,000 stipend will be provided for each award.

Series redefined: As in the past, up to three items may be submitted as a single entry, if they constituted, or were part of, a series. A "series" was defined as a group of segments on a common theme and identified as such at the time of publication. This remains true for the Sullivan Award, but for the Perlman Award, the definition has been expanded. In addition to the above, up to three items may be submitted that constituted coverage of an ongoing event, e.g. a scientific society meeting, an earthquake, a meteorological phenomenon.

Third party nominations encouraged: While anyone could make nominations for these awards in past years, in practice, almost all entries were self-nominations. The judging committee believes that this was because the submission requirements (e.g., six copies of an article or videotape, an English translation) could be onerous for those other than the nominated journalists themselves. Therefore, for other than self-nominations, nominators will be asked only for one copy of a work they believe worthy of consideration for an award. AGU will then contact the authors and advise them of the nominations. If they wish the nomination to go forward, they will be required to submit the necessary materials prior to the December 31 deadline.
-end-
This announcement is a summary of some of the rules for these awards, with emphasis on changes. The only authoritative statement of all relevant rules is on the AGU Web site at http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/sci_awards.html . A nomination form and list of previous winners of these awards may also be accessed from that page. A printed version of the rules (same text as on the Web site) will be available shortly and will be mailed to interested persons upon request.

American Geophysical Union

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