Six reporters named to receive 2002 AAAS Science Journalism Awards

November 13, 2002

A broadcast program on "18 Ways to Make a Baby," an expose on burning coal fires, and feature coverage of research that draws a line between bird songs and neurodegenerative disease, are among the entries named to win 2002 AAAS Science Journalism Awards.

Sponsored by The Whitaker Foundation, the AAAS Science Journalism Awards program, informally known as the "AAAS pinnacle of excellence prize," represents the ultimate achievement in the field of science reporting. Six reporters were named to receive AAAS Science Journalism Awards this year, recognizing exemplary communications efforts, completed between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002, on behalf of large and small newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and online media outlets.

"With scientists and journalists as judges, this award is a double honor and doubly humbling," said Peter N. Spotts, science and technology correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston and this year's winner for smaller newspapers. "I also feel a bit like the kid who brings home his first straight-A report card. His parents say, 'We knew you could do it. Now, keep it up!' The award poses a similar challenge to all its recipients: to hit that level of excellence with greater consistency.

The 2002 AAAS Science Journalism Award recipients, below, will each receive a $2,500 cash award and plaque during a gala reception at the 2003 AAAS Annual Meeting in Denver next February. (See www.aaas.org to register for the Annual Meeting):

Newspapers with a circulation of more than 100,000Newspapers with a circulation of less than 100,000MagazinesTelevisionRadioOnlineHistory

The AAAS Science Journalism Awards program, established in 1945, "helps to foster the public's understanding and appreciation of science, by promoting best practices in journalism," noted Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of its journal, Science. "Further, the winning entries then serve as teaching tools as they are disseminated each year to science writing programs at universities and colleges throughout the country."

Since their inception nearly six decades ago, the awards have honored more than 300 individuals for their achievements in science journalism. The awards recognize outstanding reporting for a general audience and honor individuals (rather than institutions, publishers or employers) for their coverage of the sciences, engineering and mathematics. To ensure the utmost objectivity and the highest possible standards of integrity, all entries are assessed by independent screening and judging panels, explained Frank Blanchard of The Whitaker Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization supporting biomedical engineering research and education, sponsor of the AAAS Science Journalism Awards since 1995.

For this reason, winners report that the awards program offers significant career visibility and acknowledgement of achievement: Past winner Natalie Angier of The New York Times, for example, has likened her 1992 AAAS award to the Pulitzer Prize, which she has also received. "With the AAAS award," she wrote in an essay on her prize, "I knew that I would be judged by the crème de la cognoscenti, one panel composed of working scientists and another of science journalists ... I was delighted to win the AAAS award."
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Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), http://www.aaas.org, has worked to advance science for human well-being through its projects, programs, and publications, in the areas of science policy, science education and international scientific cooperation. With over 134,000 members from 130 countries and 272 affiliated societies comprising more than 10 million individual members, AAAS is the world's largest federation of scientists. The association also publishes Science, an editorially independent, multidisciplinary, weekly peer-reviewed journal that ranks as the world's most prestigious scientific journals. AAAS administers EurekAlert! http://www.eurekalert.org, the online news service, featuring the latest discoveries in science and technology.

The mission of The Whitaker Foundation, based in Arlington, Virginia, is to promote better human health through advancements in medicine. This is accomplished through a series of competitive grant programs that support research and education in biomedical engineering at academic institutions in the United States and Canada. For more information, see http://www.whitaker.org

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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