McGavin Shortlisted for Science Journalism Prize

A Scots zoologist, TV presenter, explorer and author, has been shortlisted in a competition celebrating the best of science journalism.

Edinburgh-born Dr George McGavin has been shortlisted in the Best Scripted/Edited Television Programme or Online Video category of the Association of British Science Writers' annual journalism awards.

He is in a team of three for the BBC Four documentary, The Strange Science of Decay.

The documentary, which was aired on the December 6 last year, showed what happened to a kitchen and garden that were left to rot in full public view in Edinburgh Zoo for two months. Dr McGavin presented the show and is shortlisted with Fred Hepburn, the producer/director and Marcus Herbert, executive producer.

Say the organisers, the awards “reward excellence in science journalism” and received nearly 160 entries this year. Previous winners include Sir David Attenborough and Judith Hann.

In a press release, ABSW president and programme director, Connie St Louis, is quoted, as saying: “This year there was an extremely strong field of entries in most categories. Hard work for the panel of judges, but a clear indication that British and Irish science writing at its best, is appearing on all platforms available to today’s journalist.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in three weeks' time in London, where an award for Lifetime Achievement in science journalism will be also made.

The shortlist reads:

Best news item

Deborah MacKenzie, Brussels correspondent, New Scientist. Five easy steps to bird flu pandemic published in New Scientist 24-09-11

Angela Saini, freelance. The formula for justice published in The Guardian 03-10-11

Mico Tatalovic, deputy news editor, SciDev.Net. Forecasters ‘warned of Horn of Africa drought’ last year published on SciDev.Net 14-07-11

Best feature

Michael Le Page, biology features editor, New Scientist. Evolution in the fast lane published in New Scientist 02-04-11

Helen Pearson, chief features editor, Nature. Study of a lifetime published in Nature 01-03-11

Ed Yong, freelance. Master of illusion published in Nature 07-12-11

Best scripted/edited television programme or online video

After life: The strange science of decay. Broadcast on BBC Four on 06-12-11. Team entry: George McGavin, presenter; Fred Hepburn, producer/director; Marcus Herbert, executive producer

Frontline medicine. Broadcast BBC Two on 20-11-11. Team entry: Jane Aldous, executive producer; Paul Overton, series producer/director; Michael Mosley, presenter

Shock and awe: The story of electricity. Episode 2: The age of invention.  Broadcast BBC Four on 13-10-11. Team entry: Tina Fletcher-Hill, executive producer; Steve Crabtree, series producer; Jon Eastman, producer/director; Jim Al-Khalili, presenter

The Royal Society Radio Prize – A prize for the best scripted/edited radio programme or podcast

Hearing the past broadcast BBC Radio 4 on 12-09-11. Individual entry: Jane Reck, freelance

Mind myths broadcast BBC Radio 4 on 08-11-11. Team entry: Andrew Luck-Baker, producer; Claudia Hammond, presenter

Post mortem broadcast BBC Radio 4 on 14-12-11. Team entry: Beth Eastwood, producer and researcher; Geoff Watts, presenter 

Best investigative journalism

Steve Connor, science editor, The Independent. Big tobacco exposed published in The Independent 01-09-11

NB:  Due to the standard of entries in 2012 the judges decided not to produce a shortlist but just to award a winner

Best newcomer

Jessica Hamzelou, reporter, New Scientist

James Poskett, freelance reporter

Lisa Raffensperger, freelance reporter and City University, London, Science Journalism MA Candidate

New for 2012: The NUJ Stephen White Award for best communication of science in a non science context

Cassandra Jardine, feature writer, The Daily Telegraph. The chance discovery that could revolutionise lung cancer treatment. Published in the Daily Telegraph 7/11/2011. Sadly, Cassandra Jardine died from lung cancer on May 29 2012.

Robin McKie, science editor, The Observer. The fine art of medical diagnosis. Published in the Observer Review Section 11/09/2011

Ed Yong, freelance. How do our bacteria help us? Broadcast on Four Thought, BBC Radio 4 19/10/2011