Supporting the next generation of science journalists
How do we nurture new talent within the science writing community? The UK is fortunate to have some of the very best science writers – journalists, bloggers, authors – in the world, but there is still a place for new voices.
Together with the New Statesman, we have just announced that we will be supporting two aspiring science writers from an ethnic minority background to each do an eight-week placement at the magazine. This is to help address the lack of science writers from backgrounds that have been traditionally under-represented in the media. Of course there are some well known – and excellent – writers out there already, such as Alok Jha from the Guardian (pictured above) and Kevin Fong, a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow. But there are not enough.
The Wellcome Trust has a long history of supporting the ‘brightest minds with the best ideas’ in biomedical research and public engagement, so it is only natural that this should extend to include the very best and most promising science writers.
For several years now, together with the Guardian and Observer, we have been running a Science Writing Prize. We’ve already seen winners go on to secure a career in science journalism, such as Penny Sarchet, who now writes for Research Fortnight.
We now also fund two full-time scholarships on the City University London MA in Science Journalism – this academic year saw the second pair of students take up their placements. We have also ensured that whilst one of these students will be a UK student, the other must be from a low- or middle-income country. Likewise, in collaboration with SciDev.net we have supported several bursary places at the biannual World Conference of Science Journalism, to enable journalists to attend who would not otherwise have been able to develop their knowledge, skills and contact books by networking with their peers.
Of course, all of this is not entirely altruistic. Encouraging excellence in science writing ensures we have writers who are able to bring science alive to wider audiences. Equally importantly, it ensures that science is covered accurately and responsibly and, where necessary, that it is held to account. And as we prepare to launch our new Mosaic online magazine in March, we may well be tapping into this fresh talent to write for us.
The Wellcome Trust Scholarship at the New Statesman is open for applications from students or graduates now. You’ve got until 15th February 2014 to apply.