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Media Advisory 13-004
NSF Invites News Media to Apply for Opportunity to Report From Antarctica

Proposals sought from media whose audience is children 11-14: visit would occur sometime between October 2013 and January 2014

Professor teaching kids in a class about Antarctica

Polar Programs' Einstein Fellow Lynn Foshee Reed visits a classroom.
Credit and Larger Version

April 19, 2013

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting written proposals from media professionals to report on scientific research supported by NSF in Antarctica. In particular, NSF is interested in proposals from media whose work primarily is designed to reach children between the ages of 11 and 14.

NSF envisions selecting a broadcast, print or online journalist whose work has a national scope and whose reporting would help to make the nation's young people aware of the importance of science conducted in the polar regions. It also is anticipated that selected media would focus on scientific and other career opportunities in the polar regions that are available to young people.

NSF's Division of Polar Programs, which manages the Antarctic Program, has among its human-resources goals improving public understanding of the critical role of the polar regions in global processes; engaging the public in polar discovery; and helping to foster the next generation of polar scientists.

Competitive proposals would contain all or several of the following attributes:

  • Reaching the widest possible audience across a variety of platforms (broadcast, print, Web and social media).
  • Partnerships with partners in informal education--science museums and aquariums etc.--to produce a possible live broadcast or webcast through these venues as part of the media visit.
  • A proven ability to reach U.S. audiences in both English and Spanish, either through the outlet's primary production or through a partnership with another broadcaster.

Research areas that might be part of such a media visit include:

  • NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which is home to the 10-meter South Pole Telescope and Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory.
  • The Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) Project in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, an ice-free region of the continent
  • Studies of population dynamics of penguins and seals in McMurdo Sound.
  • The study of volcanoes in the McMurdo Sound region.

As part of a comprehensive proposal, a request might be considered to separately visit NSF's Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, which hosts research into organisms and ecosystems, among other topics.

For additional background on the U.S. Antarctic Program, please see the Polar Programs Antarctic Sciences Web page.

How to apply: Applicants must submit to NSF a written expression of interest in participating in the program--the equivalent of no more than five printed pages--describing the media in which the reporting will appear and a description of the potential audiences.

Competition for the opportunity to deploy is expected to be intense, as Antarctic logistics are a constraint on the number of deployments to be supported. Logistical limitations make it extremely difficult to modify itineraries once in Antarctica, therefore a great deal of advance planning with the principals, once selected, will be required to make the proposed visit successful.

This planning may therefore necessitate frequent conference calls as well as some in-person visits to NSF.

Selection: A panel consisting of science and logistics staff from the Division of Polar Programs and media officers from NSF's Public Affairs office and from NSF's Education and Human Resources directorate will review all proposals and select the finalist. 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.

General reporting about Antarctica, travel or logistics will not be given priority. The program does not support feature-film proposals. Documentary filmmakers may consider applying to the Advancing Informal STEM Learning Program managed by NSF's Education & Human Resources directorate.

Application Deadline: May 31, 2013. U.S. media receive preference in selection.

Deployment period: Deployment would occur sometime between October 2013 and January 2014. Actual dates would be contingent on story planning and logistics discussions.

Application: Applications that indicate solid working knowledge of the U.S. Antarctic program and its science goals and the ability to communicate the research being undertaken to a wide audience stand the best chance of selection.

Peter West, Polar Programs' outreach manager, can discuss with potential applicants the requirements for Antarctic deployment and provide access to NSF-supported researchers who are scheduled to be in the field during the deployment.

Due to the nature of this call for proposals, NSF envisions that freelancers will be unlikely to meet the suggested requirements for success. If, however, freelancers choose to apply, they must supply with their application evidence of a firm commitment, on the media outlet's letterhead, from the prospective media outlet that plans to publish or air their work.

Medical: In order to deploy to Antarctica, it is necessary to pass rigorous medical and dental examinations. These examinations are conducted at the finalists' expense by their personal or corporate physician and dentist, using USAP medical screening forms, which will be evaluated by USAP-contracted medical experts. Certain medical conditions detected during the physical and dental examinations may disqualify a candidate from visiting Antarctica, even if initially selected as a media visitor.

Expenses: Media selected for the visit, or their employers, pay for round-trip transportation to--and accommodation in--Christchurch, New Zealand (or, in the case of Palmer, Punta Arenas, Chile). NSF furnishes, at no cost to participants, cold-weather clothing solely for use in the field, as well as housing, transportation, and food while in Antarctica.

Note: From time to time, the 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 Peter West, whose contact information is listed below.

Where to send Applications: Contact Peter West by phone or by email as soon as possible to express interest. Send the application letter to:

National Science Foundation
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 740.02
Arlington, VA 22230
Attn: Peter West, (703) 292-7530 / pwest@nsf.gov

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7530, pwest@nsf.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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