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Media Advisory 15-012

NSF invites news media to apply for the opportunity to report on NSF-supported Antarctic research

Media deployments would focus on science conducted at McMurdo Station and its environs

View of NSF's McMurdo Station, Antarctica


NSF's McMurdo Station, Antarctica, is shown here.
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July 6, 2015

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting written proposals from media professionals to report on research in Antarctica supported by NSF's Division of Polar Programs.

NSF envisions selecting journalists to deploy whose reporting would help make the broadest possible segment of the public aware of the importance of NSF-supported research conducted in Antarctica, including the significance of that science to those who live in the Earth's temperate regions.

All proposals must include a separate, written commitment from the applicant's publisher, network, or Internet outlet--on official letterhead--to air or print the stories that are described in the application and to pay the costs of reaching the embarkation point for travel to U.S. Antarctic research stations (see sections on "Expenses" and "Medical" below). Proposals that fail to include this information will be returned without consideration.

In addition, competitive proposals would contain both of the following attributes:

  • A documented ability to reach the widest possible U.S. audience across a variety of platforms (broadcast, Web and social media).
  • A solid reporting plan designed to clearly and objectively report on science supported by the U.S. Antarctic Program to these audiences.

NOTE: General reporting about Antarctica, travel or logistics will not be given priority. The program does not support feature-film proposals.

Research areas that might be part of such a media visit, subject to logistical restrictions, include:

  • Research related to ice mass change of the Antarctic ice sheet.
  • The Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) Project in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, an ice-free region of the continent
  • Studies of organisms or ecosystems and their response to environmental changes underway in the vicinity of Palmer Station.
  • Studies of population dynamics of penguins and seals in McMurdo Sound.
  • The study of life in extreme sub-ice environments.

NOTE: Due to logistical constraints, overnight visits to NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station will likely not be possible in this year's deployment. Participants could interact with South Pole principal investigators as they transit through McMurdo Station.

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

How to apply: U.S. media receive preference in selection. Applicants must submit to NSF a written expression of interest in participating in the program--the equivalent of no more than three printed pages--describing the media in which the reporting will appear and a description of the potential audiences. See also note above about supporting materials indicating a commitment to publish, which would be in addition to the reporting plan.

Competition for the opportunity to deploy is perennially 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 will therefore necessitate frequent conference calls and may require some in-person visits to NSF.

Application Deadline: 5 p.m. (local time) on July 31, 2015.

Selection: A panel consisting of science and logistics staff from the Division of Polar Programs and media officers from NSF's Office of Legislative and Public Affairs 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: 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, as described above, 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. It is strongly suggested that potential applicants discuss their proposed deployment prior to submitting an actual proposal.

Freelancers are encouraged to apply, but must also must supply with their application evidence of a firm commitment, on the media outlet's letterhead, from the prospective outlet that will air their work and support their travel costs.

Deployment period: Deployment would occur some time between October 2015 and January 2016, for a period of roughly 10 working days. Actual dates would be contingent on story planning and logistics discussions.

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

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 Station, 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, NSF has received requests for the opportunity to visit NSF facilities 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, well in advance, to Peter West, whose contact information is listed below.

Where to send an application:

Contact Peter West by phone or by email as soon as possible to express interest.

Electronic submission is preferred.

Send the application to:

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

-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) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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