Advancing Basic Science for Humanity
05/05/2015 - Historic AAAS Kavli Competition Expands to Honor Excellence in Science Journalism Worldwide
(Originally published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science)
May 5, 2015
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today announced a global expansion of its historic science journalism awards program, thanks to an additional generous endowment from The Kavli Foundation.
For the first time in its 70-year history, the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards program will this year accept entries from reporters working worldwide. Endowed by The Kavli Foundation in 2009, this year’s doubling of the program endowment will further allow AAAS to bestow 16 instead of eight prizes annually. The value of top (Gold) awards will be increased from $3,500 to $5,000, and a $3,500 Silver prize has been added to each of the eight reporting categories.
A premier competition of its type, the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards program is widely recognized as an apex achievement for reporters covering the sciences, engineering and mathematics for a general audience. The contest is administered by AAAS, but independent panels of journalists select the winners. With the decision to accept international entries across all categories beginning with the 2014-15 competition cycle, the program is now believed to be the only truly general-interest, reporter-juried science journalism contest open to reporters from around the world.
“Like scientific discovery, excellent science journalism can happen anywhere in the world,” said AAAS CEO Rush Holt, executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “By recognizing the world’s best science news-reporting, AAAS and The Kavli Foundation are working to build a culture of respect for the value of science journalism to society, while promoting public understanding of science more broadly.”
“The Kavli Foundation is committed to science journalism, and to public understanding and support of science. We are delighted to support the expansion of the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards and to making them international in scope. Our commitment reaffirms all that the AAAS-Kavli partnership has come to reflect: no-strings-attached support for the highest possible standards in science journalism,” said Robert W. Conn, President and CEO, The Kavli Foundation. “We are also pleased this expansion is happening now. In the United States and worldwide today, there is an unprecedented need for excellence in science journalism, which is essential to help the public understand and trust scientific results, and how science is shaping our lives.”
To date, the awards have been given to more than 330 professional journalists for distinguished science news-reporting. The awards program was established in 1945 by the Westinghouse Educational Foundation through the initiative of Robert D. Potter, the president of the National Association of Science Writers. AAAS was asked to administer the program, which was meant to encourage good science journalism at a time when very few news outlets had full-time science writers. Westinghouse continued its support of the program until 1993. The Whitaker Foundation funded the awards from 1994 to 2003. From 2004 to 2008, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, L.L.C. sponsored the awards, including the establishment in 2005 of the first category open to journalists from around the world: reporting on science news for children.
In February 2009, The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, provided an initial $2 million endowment to AAAS, ensuring the future of the awards program. The Kavli Foundation endowment also made it possible for AAAS to establish two prizes in the television category, for spot news/feature reporting as well as in-depth reporting.
Now in 2015, an additional $2 million expansion of the original Kavli Foundation endowment will make it possible for AAAS to open up each prize category to journalists worldwide.
Entries for this year’s competition are being accepted today through 1 August 2015 in eight categories: large newspaper, small newspaper, magazine, television spot news/feature reporting, television in-depth reporting, radio, online, and children’s science news. Independent screening and judging committees evaluate submissions based on scientific accuracy, initiative, originality, clarity of interpretation, and value in fostering a better public understanding of science and its impact. Decisions made by the committees of reporters and editors will be final.
Recent winners of the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards have reported on the complexities of human biology, the enduring challenge of understanding cancer, a massive dam-removal project, issues raised by the era of personal genomics, climate-change impacts, endangered species, and many science-based topics with broad implications for society.