The D.C. Science Writers Association (DCSWA, pronounced Duck-swa) is an independent science writer organization founded in 1987 by a few science reporters with too much time on their hands. Since then we have grown to around 500 members, including writers and editors from nearly all the major news outlets in the Washington, D.C. area, public information officers from agencies and institutions, and freelancers.
Much of DCSWA's activity focuses around events that bring science writers together for socializing, networking and professional development. Our biggest event is our annual Professional Development Day, typically held in early April or late March. This is a full-day event with workshops designed for journalists, PIOs, book authors and freelancers. We typically have one or two plenary speakers, usually nationally known science communicators. There is always a pitch slam with editors, and plenty of time for networking. The next professional development day was held on March 28, 2015. See the full agenda and a series of session reports.
We also organize events throughout the year. These include:
- Science-related field trips to places like the Baltimore Aquarium, the Chesapeake Bay, or the National Museum of Natural History.
- A popular series of Science Cafes featuring interesting people from the greater DC science community.
- A monthly "freelancers forum" where independent science writers workshop pitches and drafts, and get ideas and advice.
- Happy hours at local bars, sometimes in conjunction with other local scientific or journalistic organizations.
- Baseball games and science comedy nights!
- An annual holiday party.
We host an annual newsbrief award to recognize excellence in short-form science reporting, which is rarely eligible for major science writing awards.
We maintain a job board with notices about D.C.-area work for science writers and a freelancer's list that we hope will connect DCSWA members with editors and other people looking for writers.
Over the years we've managed to become a corporation in Maryland and an entity recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. We have a board of directors. We have bona fide bylaws and official tax status: We're a 501(c)6 organization, which means we're tax exempt, but not a charity. Ask your tax preparer whether you can deduct DCSWA dues as a business expense. Or better yet, if you have an employer, ask it to spring for the hefty $20 annual dues.
You can contact us.
If you want to join DCSWA, we welcome you, and look forward to getting to know you!