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Win Proves Public Appetite for Science

ScienceNetwork WA | 16 December 2006

Editor Wilson da Silva and publisher Kylie Ahern at the offices of COSMOS
Editor Wilson da Silva and publisher Kylie Ahern at the offices of COSMOS

by Louise Pemble

A SCIENCE publication has been named magazine of the year at the recent business publishers’ awards held in Sydney.

COSMOS, a glossy popular science magazine, won eight honours at Australia's Bell Magazine Awards.

COSMOS editor Wilson da Silva was named Editor of the Year for the second consecutive year for putting together what the judges described as a "stylish, ambitious and erudite publication, realised through the vision of an editor". He also picked up Best Opinion Series for his incisive editorials throughout the year.

Mr da Silva told ScienceNetwork WA that the secret to good science journalism was the same as for all other types of journalism - finding a good story and telling it well.

"We make a real effort to get the science right, but our obsession is with bringing to the audience what we think they will find interesting," he said.

"Science shouldn't be about telling people about 'important' things in science. It should be like all other journalism: is it a good story? Is it fascinating? Do you come away feeling enlighhtened and entertained?"

As for the common misconception that science is too hard for the average reader, Mr da Silva said it was time to give the public more credit.

"Readers have minds too, you know," he said.

"They watch art films, play chess, visit museums and even read books. They go to writer's festivals and hear esoteric or difficult topics discussed at length.

"Where does it say that the life of the mind should be ignored by newspapers? The finance pages are full of GDP, CPI, fiscal imbalance and M3 - yet nobody says, 'well, they're too hard for the public to understand, let's not have them'."

He said the philosophy of COSMOS was to treat science as a natural part of culture, covering it from many angles: art, design, travel, interviews, humour, history and opinion.

"Science is part of life, it explains the world around us and drives modern economies," he said.

"And yet, it is often treated like a disabled cousin everyone is too embarrassed to talk about. The success of COSMOS shows that this approach is out of date."

The magazine's new website, Cosmos Online, won Best Internet Site, despite launching only five months ago. The magazine's technical director Anthony Willis collected the hotly-contested award.

Meanwhile, the magazine's Editorial Assistant Kate Holdsworth snapped up the Best Newcomer to Journalism award.

But it was COSMOS' win of the Best Consumer Magazine (Print Run Over 30,000) - ahead of Australian Geographic, Wellbeing and Auto Salon Magazine - that set it up as a finalist for the coveted overall award of Magazine of the Year.

"We were delighted and, frankly, amazed to do so well," said publisher Kylie Ahern, who collected the Best Small Publisher and Consumer Magazine of the Year trophies. "It shows that a commitment to excellence pays dividends."

The awards were judged by a panel of 32 independent industry specialists and academics who selected winners in 33 categories.


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