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AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award winners named

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Science  27 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6323, pp. 362
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6323.362

Consequential stories on important issues in medical research are among the winners of the 2016 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards, including a Swedish documentary that raised disturbing questions about the research conduct of a surgeon at the famed Karolinska Institute, a series in a small weekly newspaper that challenged claims of a local breast cancer epidemic, and a report that researchers at leading U.S. medical institutions routinely disregarded a law on reporting of study results.

The Children's Science News Silver Award went to an article entitled “The shocking electric eel!”


The awards program went global last year, thanks to a doubling of the endowment by The Kavli Foundation, and two awards were established in each category: a Gold Award ($5,000) and Silver Award ($3,500). There were entries this year from 54 countries, up from 44 last year.

Bosse Lindquist and his colleagues at the Swedish public broadcaster, SVT, won the Gold Award for in-depth television reporting for a three-part documentary on Paolo Macchiarini, an Italian surgeon on the staff of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He had gained worldwide attention for his work on synthetic tracheas, or windpipes, for human transplantation. But the documentary showed how patients suffered and died in connection with failed operations, and it raised numerous issues concerning care and research ethics.

Peter Byrne, a freelance investigative reporter, received the Gold Award in the small newspaper category for an 11-part series in the Point Reyes Light of Marin County, California, that cast doubt on claims of a breast cancer cluster in the affluent county. He found that women in mostly white suburbs get more screening mammograms than women in lower-income communities. The increased screening also returns higher rates of false positives. Byrne said his reporting on data quality problems afflicting the federal and state cancer registries “needs to be taken seriously by the highest levels of state and national government and by the medical profession at large.”

“Enterprising reporting on the substance and process of research is at the heart of good science journalism,” said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “Many of the award winners this year have shown that solid reporting on science can both improve understanding and also trigger change.”

The winners will receive their awards at a 17 February ceremony held in conjunction with the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

The winners are:

Large Newspaper (Circulation of 150,000 or more) Gold Award: Jop de Vrieze and Zvezdana Vukojevic, NRC Handelsblad (Amsterdam), for “Het is een prachtig kind. Waarom is hij overleden?” (It is a beautiful child. Why did he die?), April 23, 2016

Large Newspaper Silver Award: Christopher Schrader, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), for “Narben am Grund” (Scars in the Ground), March 23, 2016.

Small Newspaper (Circulation less than 150,000) Gold Award: Peter Byrne, Point Reyes Light (CA), for “Busted! Breast Cancer, Money and the Media” (11-part series), Nov. 5, 2015 - Jan. 21, 2016

Small Newspaper Silver Award: Barbara Peters Smith, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, for “Graying of HIV: After 35 years of the AIDS virus, a generation makes new medical history,” June 5, 2016.

Magazine Gold Award: Stephen S. Hall, Scientific American, for “Editing the Mushroom,” March 2016

Magazine Silver Award: Jane Qiu, Nature, for “The Forgotten Continent,” July 14, 2016; “Listening for Landslides,” April 28, 2016; “Trouble in Tibet,” Jan. 14, 2016.

Television Spot News/Feature Reporting (20 minutes or less) Gold Award: Rebecca Morelle and Stuart Denman, BBC Newsnight, BBC World, for “A primer on the Paris climate conference,” Nov. 23, 2015.

Television Spot News/Feature Reporting Silver Award: Nsikan Akpan and Matthew Ehrichs, PBS NewsHour, for “What a smell looks like,” June 21, 2016.

Television In-Depth Reporting (more than 20 minutes) Gold Award: Bosse Lindquist, Johannes Hallbom, Johan Brnstad, Anna Nordbeck, Jakob Larsson, Johannes Wahlström, and Emil Engerdahl, SVT, Swedish public television, for “The Experiments: The Star Surgeon,” Jan. 13, 2016; “The Experiments: Every surgeon has his own graveyard,” Jan. 20, 2016; “The Experiments: The Labyrinth of Truth,” Jan. 27, 2016.

Television In-Depth Reporting Silver Award: Peter Oxley, Gwyn Williams, Rob Hartel, and Kirk Johnson, Windfall Films (London) for NOVA/WGBH, “Making North America” series, Nov. 4, Nov. 11, Nov. 18, 2015.

Audio Gold Award: Ari Daniel and Peter Thomson, Public Radio International's “The World,” for “In Greenland, a climate change mystery with clues written in water and stone,” Jan. 18, 2016; “Looking small for big answers in Greenland,” Jan. 19, 2016; “Turning ice into f re: How climate change could mean more volcanic eruptions in Iceland,” Nov. 27, 2015.

Audio Silver Award: Shankar Vedantam, Kara McGuirk-Allison, Maggie Penman, and Max Nesterak, NPR “Hidden Brain” podcast, for “When Great Minds Think Unlike: Inside Science's ‘Replication Crisis,’” May 24, 2016.

Online Gold Award: Charles Piller and Natalia Bronshtein, STAT, for “Law Ignored, Patients at Risk: Failure to Report - A STAT Investigation,” Dec. 13, 2015; “Failure to report: About the investigation,” Dec. 13, 2015; “STAT investigation sparked improved reporting of study results, NIH says,” Feb. 16, 2016.

Online Silver Award: Christie Aschwanden, FiveThirtyEight, for “Science Isn't Broken. It's just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for,” Aug. 19, 2015; “You Can't Trust What You Read About Nutrition. We found a link between cabbage and innie bellybuttons, but that doesn't mean it's real,” Jan. 6, 2016; “Failure Is Moving Science Forward. The replication crisis is a sign that science is working,” March 24, 2016.

Children's Science News Gold Award: Anna Rothschild, Gross Science from NOVA (videos), for “What Really Causes Cavities?” Jan. 25, 2016; “See Microbes with this DIY Microscope,” Jan. 4, 2016; “Three Surprising Questions About Periods,” Feb. 10, 2016.

Children's Science News Silver Award: Roberta Kwok, Science News for Students (online site), for “The shocking electric eel!” June 2, 2016.

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