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Physics World investigative report bags writing award

Photo of Susan Curtis from IOP Publishing with Cynthia Carter, president of the Specialised Information Publishers Association (SIPA) picking up a prize on behalf of Louise Mayor for her article "Where people and particles collide"

Stateside ceremony: Susan Curtis from IOP Publishing (right) picks up the award on behalf of Louise Mayor for her article “Where people and particles collide” from SIPA president Cynthia Carter in Washington DC.

By Matin Durrani

I am delighted to announce that Physics World features editor Louise Mayor has come second in the David Swit Award for Best Investigative Reporting in the 2017 awards from the Specialized Information Publishers Association (SIPA). Louise was recognized for her feature “Where people and particles collide”, which was published in the March 2016 special issue of Physics World on making physics a more inclusive discipline.

The article examined long-standing attempts by members of the LGBT CERN group at the CERN particle-physics lab near Geneva to become an official “CERN Club” – a request that was denied. It also reported how the group had received some negative reception at CERN, as evidenced by a poster-defacement campaign, photos of which were published in the article.

Researching this took story took significant time and effort for Louise, who had not only to understand the timeline of events, but also gain the trust of interviewees, many of whom agreed to share stories of a personal nature in order to help illustrate the bigger picture. All in all, Louise sent and received nearly 200 e-mails, made numerous phonecalls and did much background research.

Aware that this was a controversial and sensitive subject, Louise worked hard to ensure the final piece was objective, fair and accurate. Indeed, it caused quite a storm when it first appeared, going on to be covered by 32 news organizations from the Sunday Times to Nature. Her article even drew an official response from CERN director-general Fabiola Gianotti.

So congratulations once again to Louise for her richly deserved award, which comes on top of her previous success in winning the 2015 European Astronomy Journalism Prize.

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