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Science Magazines Celebrate

ABC Radio National | 9 December 2006

Cosmos has collected 8 Bell Awards from the Australian magazine association. And New Scientist turns 50.


  • Chris Tchakalian, Executive Director, Australian Business and Specialist Publishers

  • Rachael Nowak, Australasian Editor, New Scientist

  • Guy Nolch, Editor and Publisher, Australasian Science Broadcast Transcript 9 December 2006 Robyn Williams: Maybe soon you'll be reading your newspapers and magazines on your phone, but in the meantime they're still there at the newsstand, and science magazines have much to celebrate this week, as David Fisher reports. David Fisher: Cosmos, the Australian bi-monthly science magazine is just two years old and it has collected eight Bell Awards presented by the Magazine Industry Association. The awards included Magazine of the Year, Editor of the Year, awards for journalism, Best Internet Site, Best Opinion Series and Best Small Publisher. The competition included titles such as AFR Smart Investor and Australian Geographic. Magazine Association executive director, Chris Tchakalian. Chris Tchakalian: The reason Cosmos featured so strongly was its editorial quality and depth. There was a feeling with the judges that the editorial staff, for instance, Editor of the Year, had a very, very strong affinity to the subject, related well to the audience... David Fisher: This is Wilson da Silva? Chris Tchakalian: Wilson da Silva, yes. There was an award for their internet site and the judges' comment was interesting too. The judges said this, 'While design imperatives were an important part of our criteria, our choice of Cosmos magazine online as the winner reflects our desire to reward a site whose production team have come up with e-commerce and content management solutions that are innovative, low cost and maintainable in-house. We were also impressed by the site's generosity of free content. Many full-length articles are available on the site which has meant that it attracts a lot of repeat views and in turn subscriptions to the magazine have grown.' David Fisher: So what's the secret of successful science publishing? Many titles have come and gone in Australia, and Cosmos at age two is off to a flying start. New Scientist, based in London and published in Australia, has been on the stands for 50 years. The magazine's Australasian editor is Rachael Nowak. How does she explain New Scientist's longevity? Rachael Nowak: It's because of two things. One is how science is just immensely appealing to people if you present it to them in the right way, and that doesn't mean you have to jazz it up and make it sexy, it means you just have to tell it as it is, and most people if you do that will find it very, very attractive. I guess that's part of it; people love science. And the other part of the equation is just science has been so successful, just continued to blossom and bloom. David Fisher: And it's all around us. Rachael Nowak: And it's all around us. David Fisher: And will be relied upon to solve some pretty difficult problems. Rachael Nowak: Immense problems coming up...but I don't think that's...well, probably some of our readers that's why they come to New Scientist is to look at issues being discussed, but I think for a lot of people it's just purely for pleasure and not just fun, I mean real pleasure. It's like drinking good wine or whatever, if you read about some science that's really interesting and compelling, it's a good feeling. You know when you have a glass of wine, it tastes really good and you feel really satisfied, hopefully when you hear about some good science...and hopefully you hear about it in New Scientist but you could hear about it from somewhere else...when you hear about some really good science that reveals something about the workings of the universe or the world or your body, it's very satisfying. You sort of get your own little eureka moment, 'Ah, that's how it works!' David Fisher: And maybe giving hope for the future and it sort of sparks the imagination. Rachael Nowak: Yes. Science is a very hopeful endeavour really. David Fisher: Meanwhile, for a monthly dose of local science, Australasian Science is a title which goes back 27 years. Taking into account merging with other titles it goes back 70 years. Editor and publisher Guy Nolch. Guy Nolch: Australasian Science is the only monthly science magazine published in Australia based on Australian research, articles actually written by the scientists writing about their own work or writing about issues in science and in their particular field. It's got very much a contemporary focus on it in terms of news and opinions. It covers quite a bit on politics as well, so it's a much more newsy kind of magazine that's available covering just the Australian research scene. David Fisher: And that's available in newsagents? Guy Nolch: It's available in newsagents and also by subscription. Robyn Williams: Guy Nolch, editor of Australasian Science magazine. And congratulations to both New Scientist for being 50, and Cosmos for sweeping the magazine Oscars.


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