Science Media Awards for Scots

The Scots science editor at The Observer newspaper and a BBC Scotland production have both gleaned top awards in a competition celebrating the best of science journalism.

Robin McKie came joint first in the Features section of this year’s Association of British Science Writers Awards, while BBC Scotland-produced programme, The Cell, broadcast on BBC Four, secured top spot in the Best Scripted/Edited Programme (Podcast, Radio, TV or Online Video) category/

The awards – which returned after a three-year hiatus due to sponsorship difficulties – attracted over 150 entries, with winners receiving a certificate and small cash prize.

Said Natasha Loder, chair of the ABSW: “The ABSW's Science Writing Awards are back, and they are here to stay. All those who were shortlisted and of course the winners are a celebration of the best of British and Irish science journalism. I am very proud to be associated with everyone who has been involved in making the Awards happen.”

The winners are:

Best News Item

John Travis, Europe news editor, Science Magazine, for ‘Scientists Decry “Flawed” and “Horrifying” Nationality Tests: Scientists are greeting with surprise and dismay a project to use DNA and isotope analysis of tissue from asylum seekers to evaluate their nationality and help decide who can enter the United Kingdom.’ Published in Science.

Best Feature

The judges were unanimous in deciding to make two awards in this category as there was no way of separating these two excellent entries:

Robin McKie, science editor, The Observer, for ‘Breathing lessons: This is what Emma Lake has to take every day to stay alive. But now a team of British scientists is on the verge of a evolutionary treatment that could extend her life by decades.’ Published in The Observer Magazine.

Helen Pearson, chief features editor, Nature, for ‘One gene, twenty years: When the cystic fibrosis gene was found in 1989, therapy seemed around the corner. Two decades on, biologists still have a long way to go.’ Published in Nature. 

Best Scripted/Edited Programme (Podcast, Radio, TV or Online Video)

Nick Jordan, producer/director; Adam Rutherford, presenter; Jacqueline Smith, series producer; BBC (team entry), for ‘The Cell’, a BBC Scotland Production broadcast on BBC Four.

Best Investigative Journalism

Peter Aldhous, San Francisco bureau chief, New Scientist, for ‘How My Genome Was Hacked: If a New Scientist reporter’s DNA is vulnerable, so is yours.’ Published in New Scientist.

Best Newcomer

Helen Thomson, Biomedical news editor, New Scientist. 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Geoff Watts, broadcaster and journalist, most recently presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Leading Edge.