Four outstanding early-career science journalists from India and China have been named winners of the 2015 EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters, awarded by AAAS.
The newly named EurekAlert! Fellows — including two from India, for the first time in the program's decade-long history — will attend the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting, Feb. 12-16, in San Jose, California, where they will have access to breaking research news and networking opportunities with journalism peers from around the world. EurekAlert! fellowships are awarded through a competitive, juried process to professional science journalists who have worked for less than three years and published works in news media in China, India, the United States, and Europe.
"The fellowship is a rare opportunity to report on scientific developments as they occur in real time and space," at the AAAS Annual Meeting, said Maitri Porecha. "In a time when most of the space in media is dedicated to reporting politics and crime, this fellowship will have a huge impact on changing my style of reporting for the better and cater to my personal growth as well."
Porecha has worked with Mumbai newspaper Daily News and Analysis (dna) for two years. She is passionate about reporting on health and science from a human rights perspective and worked with an NGO for the rehabilitation of marginalized children in Mumbai before turning to a career in science journalism.
Shreya Dasgupta Madan, an award-winning freelance science and environmental journalist from Bengaluru, India, also sees room for improvement in the science journalism landscape of India. "Often, scientists are wary of talking to journalists, most universities or research organizations lack a dedicated media centre, and bureaucracy within government-aided organizations makes interviewing researchers a cumbersome affair," she said.
Shreya Dasgupta Madan (above) and Ni Sijie
Madan has written for various national and international publications since 2013. The four years prior, she worked as a wildlife researcher studying tigers and elephants. One of her goals for science journalism is to "help people apply scientific enquiry to their everyday lives, and make informed choices."
This year's winners were selected by five independent judges with extensive journalistic and science communications expertise in India and China.
"Science reporters play an indispensable role in bridging the gap between latest achievements of the professional research community and the understandings of the general populace," said Zixue Tai, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky's School of Journalism and Telecommunications and one this year's judges.
"This is especially important in the context of China at a time when the government is expanding investment in supporting academic research and scientists there are making strides in many important areas. Improving science literacy has never been more important."
For Ni Sijie, winning means, "a chance to step out of China and go to the 'Capital of Silicon Valley' to experience the forefront of the development in modern science." Ni covers ecology, life sciences, high energy physics and astronomy. She is a multiple-time winner of China Science Daily's Monthly Best News Reports award, and her news articles are often cited by other media outlets in China.
"The fellowship will give me more opportunities to communicate with scientists from other countries and to understand their thoughts, their views towards issues in science, and their expectations," Sijie said.
Fellow Zhang Miao sees the AAAS Annual Meeting as "the collision of ideas and theories of a plethora of authoritative scientists," and perhaps "the very precursor to the next world-changing discovery." Zhang began his career as an editor, but was soon appointed as science correspondent for Xinhua News Agency's Geneva Bureau. He has conducted interviews with researchers from major organizations, including the WHO, WMO, CERN, and the UN.
Established in 2004 with a seed grant from the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation and sponsored by EurekAlert!, a science-news service operated by AAAS, the EurekAlert! fellowship program funds early-career journalists from developing regions to attend the Annual Meeting of the AAAS, publisher of the Science family of journals. Past fellows have represented the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, and China.
Applicants must meet EurekAlert!'s reporter-registrant eligibility as on-staff or freelance science reporters, and were evaluated on recently published news stories, an original essay, and a letter of recommendation. The 2015 Fellows will travel to the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting: Innovation Information, and Imaging, 12-16 February in San Jose, California.
[Credit for associated teaser image: Flickr/faungg]