Pulitzer prize winner Jonathan Capehart headlines NIH’s recent Plain Language Awards ceremony.
Photo by: Michael Spencer
NIH’s Plain Language initiative, which is devoted to clear communication in all government documents, recently celebrated its ninth year with an award ceremony and reception.
“I enjoy the process of selecting words,” said keynote speaker and Pulitzer prize winner Jonathan Capehart, an editorial writer for the Washington Post. “It’s like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle of a forest. When it’s completed, it’s exhilarating. But it’s nothing compared to the feedback you get from professionals who appreciate what you do.”
That appreciation dovetailed with the 200th birthday of two “very accomplished communicators,” said John Burklow, NIH associate director for communications and public liaison. “Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln…Both were born on the same day. Both men understood how difficult it was to write clearly.”
Dr. Marin Allen, Burklow’s deputy, announced the awards. Selected from 160 entries, 67 awards representing 19 institutes and centers went out to NIH’ers, some as individuals and some as teams. The tally was 25 gold, 18 silver and 24 bronze.
The range of products included articles, brochures, booklets, bookmarks, commentary, curricula, draft testimony and statements to the appropriations committees, among others.
Plain Language itself is getting a promotion. Acting NIH director Dr. Raynard Kington announced that the PL award will, for the first time and from now on, appear as a category in the annual NIH Director’s Awards.
And just to be clear and to the point: You don’t have to be a communications specialist to apply for the award. The 2010 submission process opens in the fall.—Belle Waring