Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Equity for Eureka

By Simon Grose

The science journalism award is overdue for a refresh.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

This year’s Eureka Prize for Science Journalism went to two segments from ABCTV’s Catalyst that dealt with the phenomenon of hormonal changes in the male partners of pregnant women. The Director of the Australian Museum, which hosts the Eureka Awards, described the winning entry as “funny and deeply moving”, rare achievements in science journalism – no doubt a worthy winner.

While this result affirmed the continuing success of Catalyst in this award, it also affirmed the continuing failure of print journalists. Over the past 12 years the prize has been won nine times by television journalists, twice by radio journalists and just once by a print journalist.

Perhaps our science journalists who work in print are not up to scratch and the award’s results define that failure. Yet they matched their TV counterparts when it comes to reaching the finals: TV and print journalism each provided 24 finalists over the past 12 years, with radio providing a further 12.

In percentage terms, TV and print each provided 40% of the finalists. From that even start, TV journalists overachieved by winning 75% of the time while print dismally underachieved with an 8% share. Only the results for radio – 20% of finalists and 16% of winners – are closely matched.

Perhaps print journos just can’t handle the finals pressure. Or perhaps it’s like comparing a highly paid AFL...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Simon Grose was a finalist in the 2006 Eureka Award for Science Journalism and is a Director of Science Media (sciencemedia.com.au).