Stories about microbial hitchhikers, the largest dam-removal project in North America, and issues raised by the new era of personal genomics are among the winners of the 2012 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.
Large Newspaper—(Circulation of 100,000 or more): Carl Zimmer, freelance writer, for stories published in the New York Times: “Evolution Right Under Our Noses” (26 July 2011); “A Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts a Call for Reform” (17 April 2012); and “Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden” (19 June 2012). The judges praised Zimmer’s entry as an example of sustained excellence in reporting on a range of science topics.
Small Newspaper—(Circulation less than 100,000): The judges declined to give an award in the small newspaper category this year.
Magazine: Michelle Nijhuis, freelance writer, for “Crisis in the Caves,” published July/August 2011 in Smithsonian magazine. Nijhuis went underground to observe both bats and biologists as she reported on white-nose syndrome, which has killed more than a million cavedwelling bats in the northeastern United States.
Television—(Spot News/Feature Reporting, 20 minutes or less): Sheraz Sadiq, KQED QUEST (San Francisco), for “Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct: Big Fixes for Big Quakes,” 9 November 2011. With historical footage and on-the-scene reporting, Sadiq explained the engineering steps being undertaken to protect the San Francisco Bay Area’s water supply.
Television—(In-Depth Reporting, more than 20 minutes): Sarah Holt and Laurie Donnelly WGBH/NOVA, for “Cracking Your Genetic Code,” 28 March 2012. The journalists’ entry told about the emerging field of personalized medicine—where success and failure often intermix—through the eyes of a cancer patient, a cystic fibrosis sufferer, and others.
Radio: Bari Scott, Alex Chadwick, Mary Beth Kirchner, Robert Rand, and Robin Wise, SoundVision Productions for American Public Media, for “Particles: Nuclear Power After Fukushima,” 11 March 2012. The program revisited the Fukishima disaster to show “energy issues through the lens of personal experience.”
Online: Lynda V. Mapes, Steve Ringman, and Genevieve Alvarez, The Seattle Times, for “Elwha: The Grand Experiment,” 17 September 2011. Their series covered the $325 million project to remove two dams that have blocked salmon runs for more than a century on the Elwha River and to restore 800 acres of former reservoirs in Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.
Children’s Science News: Kirsten Weir, free-lance writer, for “Uninvited Guests,” published in Current Health Kids, April/May 2012. Weir mixed compelling statistics and humor in her lively tour of the trillions of microbial stowaways on the human body.
The awards, administered by AAAS since their inception in 1945, go to professional journalists for distinguished reporting for a general audience. The Kavli Foundation provided a generous endowment in 2009 that ensures the future of the awards program.
Independent panels of science journalists pick the winners, who will receive $3000 and a plaque at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston in February. Learn more about the winning entries at www.aaas.org/sja2012.