Many of my science writing friends and colleagues are already on their way to Columbus, Ohio, for ScienceWriters 2014. Sadly, after making it to 6 straight meetings, I’m staying home this year. So I’ve been thinking about how I will follow what’s going on in the craft- and business-focused NASW sessions tomorrow. And I figured that my plan might be useful to some of you who are also sidelined this year.
Covering research conferences remotely is a bit more straightforward. Scientific societies put out press releases and hold press conferences, and you can often follow what’s going on via a live video feed on your computer or dial in to press conferences. Those tools can help you reach sources ahead of time or follow up with a researcher who looks interesting. But social media can be a gold mine, too. Monya Baker (bio) follows conference Twitter feeds remotely using the conference hashtags. Sifting through those tweets help her find story ideas, assess a potential source’s credibility, and find new scientists to follow.
But what about a professional development meeting like Saturday’s sessions in Columbus? I plan to rely on Twitter here, too. I tend to live tweet sessions when I go to meetings, and I’m hoping that this year’s attendees will pepper their Twitter feeds with useful nuggets. First of all, the conference hashtag this year is #sciwri14. But I’d like to follow some of the sessions in more depth, so I’ve asked some of the organizers if they have session hashtags that they plan to use as well. (And I’ve told them that I’m sharing them with you, too.)
My picks (with hashtags)
Session A: Building a Roadmap for Your Freelance Career. Christie Aschwanden and SciLancer Anne Sasso (bio) are running this one, and Anne already talked about it recently on this blog. Follow their session using #sciwri14career. Another interesting session in that slot: Innovation on a Budget (#innovatesci)
Session B: This session is a tough one. In the last year, the science writing community has spent a lot of time talking about what it will take to create a safe, inclusive community from the XX Question session at ScienceWriters 2013 to the Solutions Summit 2014 at MIT in June. Supporting Diversity in Science Writing looks like the next important step in that ongoing conversation (#DivSciWri). In addition, like many freelancers, I struggle with making time for the projects that stir my soul, so I’ll be interested in hearing what goes on in Making Passion Projects Happen (#PassProj)
Contracts Bootcamp: SciLancer Hillary Rosner (bio) will moderate this session and SciLancer Mark Schrope (bio), who wrote the contracts chapter in The Science Writers’ Handbook, will speak on this panel. If you do any freelance work at all, or if you ask freelancers to sign contracts, this session should be illuminating. No specific hashtag other than #sciwri14, but there are no concurrent sessions.
Session C: I’m always interested in strategies for pitching new outlets, so I’ll be watching Think Small: How to Write for Local and Non-Science Publications. Follow them at #localsciwri.
Session D: Many freelancers in Columbus might head over to the Pitch Slam, but after the editors give pitching tips, I expect that the Twitter stream will go silent. But I expect good things from Back to School: How to Start Writing about Science for Kids, and the panel includes SciLancer Emily Sohn (bio). Writing for kids is both fun and challenging. Follow them at #sciwrikids. If you’re looking for tips for far-flung reporting trips, check out International Reporting: How NOT to screw it up (#sciwriforeign)
I’ll also keep an eye out for NASW’s session recaps once they’re available. In the meantime, if I haven’t highlighted your session, I’d still love to add your session hashtag. Please include it in the comments.
Have fun, everyone, whether you’re in Columbus or not!