Akuginow and Haines-Stiles Receive 2013 Robert C. Cowen Journalism Award: Response

Filmmakers Erna Akuginow and Geoffrey Haines-Stiles received the Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 11 December 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. Akuginow and Haines-Stiles were honored for more than 30 years of pioneering documentary films and television series that explore Earth and space sciences with remarkable breadth and depth and astute perception of what's new, important, and fascinating in science. Early on, Haines-Stiles served as a senior producer of Carl Sagan's 1980 Cosmos series, and Akuginow served as an associate producer on another Sagan series about the nuclear arms race, intended as a sequel to Cosmos. Since then, the duo has collaborated on numerous exceptional films and television shows, ranging from tales of space missions to Mars and Pluto to coverage of polar research, including Live from Antarctica, the first interactive broadcast from the South Pole, to the 2012 PBS series on climate science and sustainable energy sources Earth: The Operators' Manual. The award also recognizes Akuginow and Haines-Stiles for contributing to excellence in science communication through extraordinary opportunities they created for scientists and general audiences to share knowledge and excitement about science in events the filmmakers organized in museums or other venues and on social media.

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Thanks to AGU and our citationist, Richard Alley, for this joint award to Erna and myself. While it is, of course, personally gratifying, we also consider it an acknowledgement that “science journalism” has broadened out from print to include video in all forms—from PBS primetime to YouTube anytime—and also social media and spoken-word presentations. We're pleased that this is one more way in which AGU is validating the participation of its members in all forms of public outreach. We're gratified that our efforts in this regard have been supported by NSF, NASA, and NOAA, among other government agencies, and are happy to acknowledge their “priceless” role as funders. As one of our current collaborators, former NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, likes to say, “The science isn't done until it's shared”…and there are more and more ways in which that sharing can be done.

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