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Clocking up another award

Winners James Gallagher and Rachael Buchanan with Liz Stanton Buck and Chris Morley   -  © private

1 July 2015

Investigating the body's clock in terms of the BBC's 24-hour news cycle was a novel and innovative way to report science, which impressed judges at the Association of Science Writers Association (ASWA) awards.

The Day of the Body Clock, devised by James Gallagher and Rachael Buchanan, was chosen as winner of the NUJ Stephen White Award for best communication and reporting of science in a non-science context. 

The project, which examined the body's rhythms and endocrine system in tune with the working day, took place on programmes across the BBC on TV, radio and online. The investigation was packaged in different forms, depending on the audience and included a quiz for people to find out if they were owls or larks.

Throughout the day, James and Rachael looked at different aspects of the body clock, such as whether eating late at night makes you fat, the dangers of not getting enough sleep and how smartphones, tablets, computers and LED lights, which contain a lot of blue light, can disrupt the body clock.

Sarah Montague and Evan Davis, presenters of BBC Radio 4's Today, took part in an experiment to monitor their sleep when they were presenting the programme and on their days off.

James, health editor for the BBC News website, and Rachael, a BBC science and health journalist, said the project proved that science can be fun and informative without being sensationalist.They agreed it had been hard work and that having the gamut of the BBC's output to work on had given them maximum exposure.They also learned that James is an owl and Rachael a lark.

The ASWA award was the third the pair had won for the project.

Stephen White, an NUJ member of 35 years and posthumous winner of the union's gold badge award, was head of communications at the British Psychological Society until his untimely death in 2010. The award is made possible by a donation from Stephen’s widow, Elizabeth.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands's organiser, said:

"Liz was determined that Stephen's fantastic reputation among his peers in the world of science should not pass unremarked in future. She also wanted to ensure that Stephen's professionalism in encouraging the work of others to educate and inform on the scientific world should continue in a lasting and tangible legacy. I am proud that this award exists and that the NUJ is associated with it."

Tags: , bbc, science, aswa, science journalism, broadcasting, radio, online