Reporters from Science Magazine to receive ASM Public Communications Award

04/07/04

WASHINGTON, DC April 7, 2004 Two journalists from Science magazine have been named the recipients of the American Society for Microbiology 2004 Public Communications Award. The winning entry, written by Martin Enserink and Dennis Normile, is a two-part series, "SARS in China." It focuses on China's initial denial of the emerging epidemic and insistence that the cause was the Chlamydia bacterium despite research showing otherwise, and it provides an in-depth look at where the virus originated and how it developed in humans.

Now in its ninth year, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in increasing public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of microbiology. The recipients will be presented with a $2,500 honorarium and a plaque during the 104th General Meeting of the ASM in New Orleans, LA, May 24, 2004.

The judges were unanimous in stating that the series "really goes behind the scenes in explaining China's late response to SARS." One judge noted it was, "well told, timely, and important." They also thought that the series accurately conveyed how the field of microbiology in China has changed as a result of SARS.

In the series' first article, "China's Missed Chance" (July 18, 2003, p. 394), the writers detail China's attempt to cover up the emergence of SARS and question why a senior microbiologist and his team failed to report their findings linking SARS to the coronavirus. Now that the region has been declared SARS free, the writers say Chinese researchers are reeling at the missed opportunity to show off China's advanced scientific capabilities. The article goes on to explain the changes that have subsequently occurred in China's approach to the study of microbiology.

The second half of the series, "Tracking the Roots of a Killer" (July 18, 2003 p. 297), addresses the question of where SARS originated and how that information may prevent the disease from reemerging. It explores the markets of Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Beijing, focusing on handlers of animals and food in an attempt to determine the source of the virus and how it was transmitted to humans.

Normile has been the acting Tokyo Bureau Chief for Science magazine since 1995. He has covered government science policy, trends within the scientific community and current experimental results throughout Asia. Normile also has contributed to various other publications, including Popular Science, The Christian Science Monitor, and New Scientist. Enserink joined the staff at Science in 1999. He specializes in covering emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorism and also serves as an editor of ScienceNOW, a daily news site on the Web operated by Science. In January of this year he became a contributing correspondent for Science from Paris.

Nancy Shute, Senior Writer, U.S. News & World Report; Mitch Waldrop, Public Affairs Specialist, National Science Foundation; and Anita Manning, reporter for USA Today, served as this year's judges.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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