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8 May, 2003

Media Opportunities in Antarctica


May 07, 2003

PA/M 03-26


Application Deadline: Applications must be postmarked no later than Monday, July 7, 2003

The National Science Foundation (NSF), manager of the U.S. Antarctic Program, is accepting written applications from professional journalists to report on NSF-supported science in Antarctica during the 2003-2004 research season, which begins in early November and ends in mid-February. If selected, journalists will visit Antarctica for a limited time during the season to report on field science first-hand.

NSF annually selects a small group of journalists, representing a range of publications, to make individual visits to one or more of the three U.S. Antarctic research stations - McMurdo, Amundsen Scott South Pole and Palmer - to report on NSF's scientific program. Applicants must submit the equivalent of two typed pages detailing specifically what they plan to cover while in Antarctica. NSF public affairs officers can help applicants to craft a proposed reporting plan. Competition is intense for a very 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 key selection criterion is NSF's ability to provide the logistical support needed to carry out a specific reporting plan. Reporters should be aware that the ongoing reconstruction of NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, coupled with the need to give scientists and construction cargo priority on a limited number of flights, may limit any media visits to the South Pole this season.

A selection committee of Antarctic Program science and logistics personnel and media officers from NSF's Office of Legislative and Public Affairs reviews all proposals and selects finalists. The committee looks for proposals that indicate an understanding of the nature and challenges of NSF's scientific enterprise in Antarctica and the desire and ability to communicate that understanding to the public.

Applicants should focus on visiting a limited number of projects because transportation is highly dependent on weather and delays are common. The time reporters may spend on the continent must be tightly coupled to their reporting. Proposals from print, television, and radio journalists as well as from online news operations are welcome. U.S. mass media that serve primarily language-minority audiences also are strongly encouraged to apply.

NSF's Office of Polar Programs offers a separate program to support artists and writers in Antarctica whose primary form of expression is not journalistic. For information see: <http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/aawr.htm>http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/aawr.htm, or contact: Guy Guthridge,

(703) 292-8033 / <mailto:gguthrid@nsf.gov>gguthrid@nsf.gov

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 the Antarctic, travel, or logistics are not given priority. U.S. media receive preference in selection.

Expenses: Reporters or their employers pay for round-trip transportation to - and accommodation in - Christchurch, New Zealand (if traveling to McMurdo or South Pole) or Punta Arenas, Chile (if traveling to Palmer Station). Logistical restraints make it impossible to visit both Palmer and the Pole and McMurdo in one season. 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 in Antarctica.

Medical: Finalists must pass comprehensive physical and dental exams conducted at their own expense by their personal physicians and dentists and subject to screening by the U.S. Antarctic Program. Certain medical conditions may disqualify a candidate from visiting Antarctica, even if selected as a media visitor.

How To Apply: Contact NSF (by phone or by e-mail) as soon as possible to express interest and to discuss areas of professional interest. Freelancers must supply evidence of a firm commitment from prospective employer to publish or air their work on the employer's letterhead.

Send the letter and any supporting materials (such as a limited number of clips or videotaped segments) to:

National Science Foundation

Office of Legislative and Public Affairs

4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1245

Arlington, VA 22230

Attn: Peter West, (703) 292-7761 / <mailto:pwest@nsf.gov>pwest@nsf.gov

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