DCSWA Newsbrief Awards for Short Science Journalism

2017 DCSWA Newsbrief Awards for Short Science Journalism—Enter Now!

We love longform, but short pieces are the true workhorses of science communication. In the spirit of recognizing these unsung works of excellence, we offer the DCSWA Newsbrief Awards. Since 2009, we’ve been celebrating achievement in brief science writing and multimedia. Entries for the 2017 Newsbrief Awards are now open!

The deadline to submit an entry is 11:59 p.m. EST on February 1, 2018.

DCSWA accepts entries in two categories: writing (primarily written text), and multimedia (primarily audio, video, photos, infographics, or a combination thereof). Members of DCSWA can enter their own work, or others can nominate it, via the entry form. Entries will be judged by a panel of science writers and media professionals selected by the DCSWA board. The winner in each category will receive a prize of $300. Honorable mention certificates will be awarded at the judging panel’s discretion.


1. DCSWA members in good standing as of the deadline are eligible to win.

2. An entry may be submitted either by the individual(s) responsible for it or by a nominator, who does not have to be a DCSWA member.

3. Entries will be accepted in two categories: writing and multimedia. The writing category is for primarily written print or online science stories (including, but not limited to, news, commentary, blog posts, and press releases). The multimedia category applies to audio, video, slideshow, or other multimedia science stories. Entries must be published or distributed between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2017. Entries must be submitted as originally published or broadcast.

4. Entries should be brief. Though there are no strict length limits, please note that judges will strongly favor written work of less than approximately 500 words, video and audio work of less than approximately 3:30 minutes, and other types of work of equivalent brevity.

5. Entries must be submitted to the form at the provided link with all the required information. For problems or questions with the form, email newsbriefaward@gmail.com.

6. Deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST on February 1, 2018.

7. Each entrant may be associated with up to two entries. A collaborative effort of multiple authors may be submitted, but at least one author must be eligible, and all authors’ names must be included. Unrelated stories may not be submitted as a single entry, even if by the same author or published/broadcast consecutively.

8. The Awards will be administered by a Committee that includes at least one member from the DCSWA Board. The Committee will select the Judging Panels. The work of the Awards Committee, the Judging Panels, and DCSWA officers is not eligible for the 2017 DCSWA Science Newsbrief Awards.
 Board members who are not officers are eligible.

9. DCSWA reserves the right to cancel the 2017 DCSWA Science Newsbrief Awards if the quantity or quality of the collected entries are judged by the Judging Panel to be insufficient to merit recognition. Judges also have the right to select up to two honorable mentions.

Award History

The idea for the DCSWA Newsbrief Award began at the 2007 Metcalf Institute’s Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists, when participants and former DCSWA board members Christine Dell’Amore and Chelsea Wald brainstormed ways to give more credit to science writers who write short pieces. They pitched the idea of an award to DCSWA, which agreed to fund it in 2009.

In the DCSWA spirit of inclusivity, all DCSWA members—journalists, PIOs, bloggers, and other science writers—compete side-by-side for the award. The first prizes were given in 2010 for work completed in 2009. The award is announced at the holiday party and presented at the DCSWA Professional Development Day. The winning writer(s) in each category will receive a prize of $300. Honorable mention certificates will be awarded at the judging panel’s discretion.

We welcome suggestions for how to make the DCSWA Newsbrief Award the best award out there. Please send your ideas to newsbriefaward@gmail.com.

Past winners and honorable mentions

2016 (Press release
Winner: Kelly Servick of Science for “Tear your knee? Maybe your nose can help it heal.”
Honorable mention: Rachael Lallensack of Science for “Watch this tiny robot do a backflip.”
Honorable mention: Susan Milius of Science News forDiversity of indoor insects, spiders adds to life’s luxuries in high-income neighborhoods.”
Winner: Genna Duberstein and Brian Monroe of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for “The Electric Wind of Venus.” 
Honorable mention: Julia Griffin of PBS NewsHour for “Why are peacocks’ tail feathers so enchanting?
Honorable mention: Elaine Seward (winner of the 2014 Newsbrief Award) and Sam Lemonick of the American Chemical Society for an episode of ACS’ Reactions series, “Does gum really stay in your stomach for 7 years?”

2015 (Press release
Winner: Emily Conover for “How to prevent a sheep traffic jam” in Science
Honorable mention: Tina Hesman Saey for “For penguins, it’s a matter of no taste” in Science News
Honorable mention: Emily Underwood for “Rats forsake chocolate to save a drowning companion” in Science
Winner: Joy Ng, Greg Shirah, and Jefferson Beck of NASA Goddard Multimedia for “What are the chances of another Katrina?
Honorable mention: Sophia Cai, Sean Parsons, and Noel Waghorn of ACS for “Why don’t we recycle Styrofoam?”,
Honorable mention: Steve Baragona of Voice of America for “Scientists study slums for signs of spreading superbugs

2014 (Press Release
Winner: Matt Davenport and Elaine Seward for “Why Fruit Flies Could Make Your Beer Better” for Chemical & Engineering News
Honorable mention: Beth Mole for “Kangaroo gut microbes make eco-friendly farts” in Science News
Honorable mention: Mark Zastrow for “The Pattern in Nature’s Networks” for NOVA PBS Online

Winner: Meghan Rosen for “Paralyzed Rats Relearn To Pee” in Science News
Honorable mention: Tina Hesman Saey for “Mole Sniffs the World in Stereo” in Science News
Honorable mention: Andrew Grant for “Single Electron Caught in Action” in Science News

Winner: Lauren Wolf for “Building a Jellyfish Mimic with Tissue Engineering” (video) for Chemical & Engineering News
Honorable mention: Susan Milius for “Bees More Cuckoo Than Birds” in Science News Prime
Honorable mention: Meghan Rosen for “All Dinosaurs May Have Had Feathers” in Science News

Winner: Nadia Drake for “Iapetus Gets Dusted” in Science News
Honorable mention: Nadia Drake for “Fruit of the Loo” in Science News
Honorable mention: Rachel Ehrenberg for “Hidden Dalliance Revealed by X-Rays” in Science News, web edition

Winner: Sarah Zielinski for “Rare Earth Elements Not Rare, Just Playing Hard to Get” in Smithsonian’s Surprising Science blog
Honorable mention: Sujata Gupta for “How Mussels Hang On” in ScienceNOW
Honorable mention: Rajendrani Mukhopadhyay for “Microscale Mimic Of Human Ingestion” in Chemical & Engineering News

Winner: Sam Kean for “Mother’s Cancer Can Infect Her Fetus” in ScienceNOW
Honorable mention: Helen Fields for “Groovin’” in ScienceNOW
Honorable mention: Sarah C.P. Williams for “The Power of One” in HHMI Bulletin