National Science Foundation

NSF Invites Media to Apply for January Antarctic Reporting Slots

Press Release   •   Nov 18, 2011 05:04 EST

Application deadline is Nov. 28, 2011; deployments to take place Jan. 13-20, 2012

The U.S. Antarctic Program is managed by the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va.
Credit and Larger Version

November 17, 2011

The National Science Foundation (NSF), manager of the U.S. Antarctic Program is accepting written requests from professional journalists to report on scientific research supported by NSF's Office of Polar Programs (OPP).

Selected journalists will deploy to Antarctica for approximately one working week.

NSF annually selects a small group of journalists, representing a range of news organizations, to make individual visits to McMurdo Station on the southern tip of Ross Island and, weather permitting, South Pole Station, Antarctica to report on NSF's scientific program. As logistics permit, it may be possible to visit a limited number of field science projects. The reporting plan described below should include these requests in detail.

OPP and NSF's Office of Legislative and Public Affairs (OLPA) jointly manage and coordinate media visits to the Polar Region.

Examples of projects that will be open to media visits:

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics at the South Pole
  • Ice sheets and ice shelves as influenced by climate change
  • Long-term Ecological Research in the McMurdo Dry Valleys
  • Population Dynamics of Penguins and Seals in McMurdo Sound
  • Reporters may also have the opportunity, depending upon researchers' travel schedules to interview scientists with the WAIS Divide Ice Coring Project and joint NSF-NASA supported research at the Pine Island Glacier as they return from the field.

How to apply: Applicants must submit the equivalent of two printed pages detailing specifically what they intend to cover while in the field. NSF public affairs officers can help applicants craft a proposed reporting plan that has the best chance of meeting minimum criteria.

Competition is expected to be intense for a limited number of slots, and space on aircraft is severely constrained. Logistical limitations make it nearly impossible to modify reporting plans once in Antarctica.

A panel consisting of program staff from OPP and media officers from OLPA will review all proposals and select finalists. The panel will look for proposals that indicate an understanding of the nature and challenges of NSF's scientific enterprise in the Antarctic as well as the desire and ability to communicate that understanding to the public.

Application Deadline: Nov. 28, 2011--U.S. media receive preference in selection.

Application: Focused applications with thorough reporting plans that indicate solid working knowledge of the U.S. Antarctic program and its science goals stand the best chance of selection. Feature-film proposals and general reporting about Antarctica, travel or logistics are not given priority, though film makers may apply to the Informal Science Education program administered by the Education & Human Resources directorate of NSF. Applications should also include the outlet(s) in which the reporting will appear and the anticipated audiences reached through the reporting.

For additional background please go to United States Antarctic Program website.

Medical: Finalists must pass rigorous medical and dental examinations before being approved to travel with the USAP to Antarctica. These examinations are conducted at the finalist's expense by a personal physician and dentist, using USAP medical screening forms. Certain medical conditions may disqualify a candidate from visiting Antarctica, even in eventually selected as a media visitor.

Expenses: Reporters selected for the media or their employers pay for round-trip transportation to--and accommodation in--Christchurch, New Zealand. Reporters must visit NSF headquarters in Arlington, VA., at their own expense for pre-trip planning. NSF furnishes at no cost cold-weather clothing solely for use in the field as well as housing, transportation and food while in Antarctica.

Note: From time to time, NSF has received requests for media opportunities from reporters who plan to travel to Antarctica at various times of the year via non-governmental means. Such requests are reviewed on a case by case basis. Such requests should be directed to the NSF media officer listed below.

How to Apply: Contact the NSF media officer listed below (by phone or by e-mail) as soon as possible to express interest. Freelancers are eligible for consideration but must supply with their letter of application evidence of a firm commitment from prospective employer to publish or air their work on their employer's letterhead.

Send the application letter to:

National Science Foundation
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1245
Arlington, VA 22230

Attn: Debbie Wing, (703) 292-5344 /