23 July 2006

How do you define a science writer?

The Science Writer Awards promoted by The Daily Telegraph and Bayer are an admirable attempt to raise the profile of science writing among young persons. But they send a funny message on the page where they offer "Advice from top science writers". The science writers are outnumbered by luminaries.

There are some honourable examples in there, but the idea that they consult the words of the CEO of Bayer in the UK/Ireland is puzzling. The Daily Telegraph probably realises as much as anyone that words appeared under the CEO's byline were probably the work of a paid writer who "ghosted" the text.

When it comes the the famous names, Professor Steve Jones has written more books than most. And Lord Martin Rees once confided to us that the easiest money he had ever made was an afternoon's work writing something for The Daily Mail, or maybe it was some other tabloid with money to throw around. But another writer in their list, Sir David King, can hardly claim to be a science writer. (A trade secret here, he certainly uses a professional writer to help to craft some of the words that appear under his name.) They don't even seem to feature their own famous science editor.

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