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Reporters from Science to Receive
Prestigious Public Communications Award
Two journalists from Science have been named the recipients of the American Society for Microbiology 2004 Public Communications Award. The winning entry is the two-part series "SARS in China," written by Martin Enserink and Dennis Normile with contributing reporting by Ding Yimin and Xiong Lei. It focuses on China's initial denial of the emerging epidemic and insistence that the cause was the Chlamydia bacterium despite research showing otherwise, and provides an in-depth look at where the virus originated and how it developed in humans.
Now in its ninth year, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in increasing public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of microbiology.
The judges were unanimous in stating that the series "really goes behind the scenes in explaining China's late response to SARS." One judge noted it was "well told, timely, and important." They also stated that the series accurately conveyed how the field of microbiology in China has changed as a result of SARS.
In the series' first article, "China's Missed Chance" (18 July 2003, p. 394), the writers detail China's attempt to cover up the emergence of SARS and question why a senior microbiologist and his team failed to report their findings linking SARS to the coronavirus. Now that the region has been declared SARS free, the writers say Chinese researchers are reeling at the missed opportunity to show off China's advanced scientific capabilities. The article goes on to explain the changes that have subsequently occurred in China's approach to the study of microbiology.
The second half of the series, "Tracking the Roots of a Killer" (18 July 2003, p. 297), addresses the question of where SARS originated and how that information may prevent the disease from reemerging. It explores the markets of Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Beijing, focusing on handlers of animals and food in an attempt to determine the source of the virus and how it was transmitted to humans.
Nancy Shute, Senior Editor of U.S. News & World Report; Mitch Waldrop, Public Affairs Specialist at the National Science Foundation; and Anita Manning, reporter for USA Today served as this year's judges.
The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists and health professionals. Its mission is to promote research and research training in the microbiological sciences and to assist communication between scientists, policy makers, and the public to improve health, the environment, and economic well-being.
9 April 2004