Penny Smith
Penny Smith
Senior Publicist, Wiley

As Senior Publicist at Wiley, I’m constantly on the lookout for newsworthy, new, unpublished research from the 1,700+ journals we publish, to publicize to the mainstream and specialist media.judging day.jpg


Our main media outreach tool, Wiley Research Headlines is an effective way of doing this as it allows trusted reporters to request embargoed papers so that they can research, write up and ‘break’ stories when the study publishes. As a result our research is regularly featured in major global news outlets such as the New York Times, Mail Online and Reuters.


My day-to-day dealings with the media tend to be via email or phone – usually responding to urgent requests for papers or interviews from reporters working to tight deadlines.  So when an invitation landed on my desk to be a judge at this year’s Medical Journalists’ Association (MJA) Awards, I leapt at the chance.


Here was an opportunity to represent Wiley at the prestigious MJA Awards ceremony that recognizes and encourages excellence in health and medical journalism. Little did I know when accepting the offer just how difficult it would be to choose one winner from all the excellent entries to be judged.


I joined five other judges as we were tasked to select the winning entry from the 30 articles submitted for the Feature of the Year (Specialist Audience) category. Each of the articles had been written for varied and specialist audiences in publications which are dedicated to health, medicine or science.


After individually considering each of the 30 entries, each judge was asked to submit a shortlist of five articles for further consideration. My fellow judges included a national newspaper journalist, the BMA Director of Professional Activities, a Media Officer from the Welcome Trust, a respected Media Dietician and a Media Officer from Imperial College.


We were all highly impressed with the quality and professionalism of the entries.  An important part of the judging criteria was to consider the respective audience each article was aimed at (i.e. doctors, pharmacists, practice managers, nurses, teachers) and the potential post-publication impact the articles may have.


Entries spanned a huge variety of topics and shortlisted entries included : NHS in 2017: the long arm of government (BMJ), The power of the unfocused mind (Times Educational Supplement) and MJA Awards - l to r Sian Williams Emma Young Penny Smith.jpgHello, again, Dolly (The Economist) It was difficult to narrow down the 30 entries and I was greatly relieved to learn that the other five judges in my category had arrived at similar shortlists. Even better, at the awards judging day we all agreed unanimously on the winner Emma Young and her article in Mosaic Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening.


Emma’s entry stood out for its clarity of approach to what is an important global issue. Her compelling article, we felt, could have a major impact on public policy approaches around the world.


We also awarded a ‘highly commended’ to Meera  Senthilingham for her article Sex in the UK: How Culture and Society can define your Sexual Health. Her article, published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was well-grounded, measured, non-judgmental and covered a highly sensitive topic. It was a compelling narrative on a major public health issue.


My involvement as a judge culminated with my attending the awards ceremony at the Barber Surgeons’ Hall in London. On arrival I was delighted to be asked to represent Wiley and co-present (with Channel 5’s Sian Williams) the award for the Feature of the Year (Specialist Audience).


The event was an overwhelming success and a great opportunity for me to network with journalists from across the spectrum of press & broadcast media.


For more details on the MJA and this year’s winners and entrants visit the MJA website.


Images: Top: Judging Day;. Bottom: Left to right: Sian Williams, Emma Young, Penny Smith. Credit: Medical Journalism Association