President’s Letter, News.ISWA #1

Science is flourishing, so science writing and communicating should, too, but in many parts of the world, science writers are slowly being edged out. It is exactly in such times that one needs friends who help tide over the troughs.

The International Science Writers Association (ISWA) extends its hands of friendship across borders and continents to all people who love to tell stories based on science. ISWA, the world’s oldest international organisation for individual science writers, is now 49 years young. It was set up in 1967 with the first President being John Maddox, the legendary editor of Nature magazine. ISWA members in the past have always extended a helping hand to our fraternity whenever a fellow member sought help. Today the same spirit will hopefully continue, as veteran and able past President of ISWA James Cornell often says, “Even in times of ‘Facebook,’ nothing can beat a face-to-face meeting.”

There is new blood which has been infused into the leadership team of ISWA; Jim Cornell passed the baton to me after a vote of members at the Helsinki WFSJ meeting, and I hope to live up to the high expectations and standards of the organisation that he established. Today among the office bearers we have representatives from five continents, all doing work on a pro-bono basis to ensure that the future of international science writing remains bright.

ISWA has made a debut on Facebook, so do look for it and become Friends; it is open to all science writers, not just members of ISWA. The website has also been revamped through the untiring efforts of our colleague Mr. Sedeer el-Showk, and the newsletter is also getting perked up with Dr. Larry Krumenaker, giving it a fresh look. If you have personal stories to share about exciting assignments, do reach out to Larry; he is always hungry for stories on the science of science writing.

ISWA remains that organisation which offers a person-to-person contact as its hallmark. In this age where we only ‘like’ friends as on Facebook, and have, in a way, stopped ‘making’ friends in the real world, ISWA offers real opportunities to exchange ideas, build bonds with science writers from near and far. For example, the upcoming annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to be held in Washington DC, USA from February 11-15, 2016, with its apt theme ‘Global Science Engagement’ offers a lovely watering hole for meeting old friends, and occasionally helping younger reporters find anchorage in the vast ocean of science that any AAAS meeting offers. See Jim Cornell’s article on Page 7. Look for a possible get together event for all ISWA members who participate in the AAAS meeting.

All suggestions on how to strengthen ISWA and make it more relevant and vibrant are welcome. Feel free to reach any of us (our emails are on Page 6); we are here to serve the interests of the science writing community.

– Pallava Bagla