The awards celebrate the finest UK print and online commentators, and this is the first year that they have included a Science Commentator category, which the Wellcome Trust is pleased to sponsor. The shortlisted writers are Anjana Ahuja, writing in the Financial Times and the Telegraph, Professor Colin Blakemore, writing in the Times, and Charles Clover, writing in the 'Sunday Times'. The winner will be announced on 26 November.
Mark Henderson, Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust, said: "The Wellcome Trust is committed not only to driving extraordinary improvements in health through biomedical science, but also to public discussion of the implications these advances have for science and society. We think that robust and well-argued media comment, properly rooted in evidence, is an important stimulus for this discussion. We are thus proud to be sponsoring a new science category in the Comment Awards. All three of the shortlisted writers show how well-written science commentary can lift the quality of public engagement and debate, while also making great reading for general audiences."
Anjana Ahuja, a freelance writer, has been shortlisted for her work in the Financial Times and the Telegraph, including pieces on the challenges of risk communication. This has included pieces on H7N9 flu and on the Italian court verdict against seismologists following the L'Aquila earthquake in 2009. She is joined on the shortlist by Colin Blakemore, who writes for the Times. He is also Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at University of Oxford and former chief executive of the Medical Research Council, and has written on subjects such as the use of drugs in sport and the ongoing implications of the MMR scandal. The third shortlisted science commenter is Charles Clover of the Sunday Times, whose portfolio of thoughtful environmental commentary has included columns on fishing and conservation and Margaret Thatcher and environmentalism.
This year's judging panel is chaired by Stevie Spring, Chairman of BBC Children in Need and Director of Engine. The Science Commentator category judges are: Mark Henderson, Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust; Fiona Fox, Director of the Science Media Centre; Professor Anne Johnson, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at University College London; Dr Ewan Birney, Associate Director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Bioinformatics Institute; and Isabella Thomas, journalist and Programme Director to the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation and Axess Publishing in Stockholm.
The full shortlist in all categories is available on The Comment Awards website.
The winners in all categories will be announced on Tuesday 26 November 2013.