Fellows gather for first SHERF Symposium

The 2022-23 National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellows (SHERF) listen to statistician and science writer Regina Nuzzo. (Image by Sylvia Kantor)

As others attending ScienceWriters2023 were making their way to Colorado on October 6, a select group of early-career journalists were already gathered in Boulder discussing important topics spanning science, health, and environment reporting.

The first SHERF Symposium brought together alumni from the first two years of a unique program, the National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships, a partnership launched in 2021 by CASW, the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, and the Society of Environmental Journalists. The highly competitive program is designed to provide career-building training, mentoring, and networking for a diverse corps of early-career specialized journalists.

The “SHERFs” engaged with statistician and science writer Regina Nuzzo of Gallaudet University in a workshop based on CASW’s “Asking Questions about Data” online mini-course; learned from Lynn Walsh of Trusting News about techniques for building trust and understanding when reporting on health and climate; engaged in dialogue about climate communication with scientist and Patrusky Lecturer Michael E. Mann; and crafted and critiqued story pitches together.


Image by Sylvia Kantor

CASW Executive Director Rosalind Reid, who organized the half-day symposium, said it was important to bring the fellows together to cement the learning and networking of the first two SHERF years and to enable the two classes to meet each other. She noted that the first class began their fellowship during the COVID-19 pandemic and had been unable to attend an in-person ScienceWriters meeting.

“In survey feedback and focus-group discussion, the fellows expressed strong interest in growing this new network and keeping the training going through follow-up activities,” she said. “Through this program, we are forging future leaders for specialized journalism and providing affordable training opportunities to scaffold their careers in a challenging time for the field.”

The partners are preparing plans for a third SHERF class in 2024.