The American Association for the Advancement of Science is holding its annual meeting in DC this week, and the organization is presenting awards to "professional journalists for distinguished reporting for a general audience." An endowment from the Kavli Foundation funds the awards program, which gives $3,000 and a plaque to each winner.
I wasn't surprised to see that the winners included Charles Duhigg's New York Times "Toxic Waters" series and Richard Harris and Alison Richards' NPR series "Follow the Science: Calculating the Amount of Oil and Gas in the Gulf Oil Spill" (here and here, too). I was impressed with both sets of stories when they first came out, and Duhigg's series was a particularly ambitious project. The AAAS press release explains, "As part of his reporting, Duhigg reviewed hundreds of scientific papers and spoke with dozens of researchers. He filed more than 500 Freedom of Information Act requests, built his own database, and ran thousands of queries to search for patterns in the data."
The other winners are:
- Hilary Rosner, High Country News, "One Tough Sucker"
- Steve Silberman, Wired, "The Placebo Problem"
- Sarah Holt, NOVA scienceNOW, "How Memory Works"
- Alan Alda, Graham Chedd, Larry Engel, and Jared Lipworth, THIRTEEN, in association with WNET.ORG, "The Human Spark"
- William Saletan, Slate, "The Memory Doctor"
- Cody Crane, Science World (Scholastic), "Learning from Bears," "Real-Life Bloodsuckers," "Saving the Ozone Layer"
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Great journalism needs not just talented and knowledgeable reporters, but also skilled editors and publications committed to high-quality stories. The best stories may not be the ones that sell the most copies or attract the most clicks, so it's good that there are awards like these to show that readers really do a appreciate great science journalism.