Winners: SEJ 21st Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment

The Society of Environmental Journalists is pleased to announce the winners of the SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment, which honor the best stories released from February 1, 2021, through January 31, 2022, and the best books on environmental topics published in 2021.

The SEJ contest is the world’s largest and most comprehensive environmental journalism competition. This year, 485 entries in ten categories were judged by independent volunteer panels of journalists and professors.

First place winners of SEJ’s 2022 Awards for Reporting on the Environment

Visit SEJ’s website for a full list of winners and honorable mentions.

Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting, Large
First Place

“Sacrifice Zones: Mapping Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution” by Al Shaw, Lylla Younes, Ava Kofman, Lisa Song, Max Blau, Kiah Collier, Ken Ward Jr., Alyssa Johnson, Maya Miller, Lucas Waldron and Kathleen Flynn for ProPublica, with The Texas Tribune and Mountain State Spotlight

Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting, Small

First Place

“The Department of Yes: How Pesticide Companies Corrupted the EPA and Poisoned America” by Sharon Lerner for The Intercept

Outstanding Beat Reporting, Large

First Place

“Fiona Harvey COP26 Beat Reporting” by Fiona Harvey for The Guardian

Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small

First Place

“EPA Exposed” by Sharon Lerner for The Intercept

Outstanding Explanatory Reporting, Large

First Place

“The Greenland Connection” by Tony Bartelme (senior projects reporter) and Lauren Petracca (photographer and videographer) for The Post and Courier

Outstanding Explanatory Reporting, Small

First Place

“Troubled Waters: The Salton Sea Project” by Angela Chen, Tim Kiley, Kent Kay, Sarah-Jayne Arthur, Rebecca Johnson and Justin Tarpening for KESQ

Outstanding Feature Story, Large

First Place

“Climate Change Is Exposing the Racism Behind an Oregon Water War” by Jeremy Raff, Josh Rushing, Adrienne Haspel, Erik Ljung, Laila Al-Arian and Darya Marchenkova for Al Jazeera English

Outstanding Feature Story, Small

First Place

“The Collapse of Wild Red Wolves Is a Warning That Should Worry Us All” by Jimmy Tobias for The Nation

Outstanding Student Reporting

First Place

“Hogwash” Cameron Oglesby, Duke University, published by Grist

Rachel Carson Environment Book Award

First Place

“Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World” by Emma Marris. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

The menu of collaboration: What we’ve learned from launching and managing nine industry collaboratives

This report from the Local Media Association discusses steps for success and lessons learned while launching nine reporting collaboratives, including the Covering Climate Collaborative.

Apply now for the Religion & Environment Story Project (RESP) Fellowship

The Religion & Environment Story Project (RESP) trains journalists, editors, and public-facing scholars interested in the intersection of the environment and religion. Our goal is to bridge the divide between the religion and science beats, and promote new thinking and new narratives that will inform and educate the public, especially on the climate crisis. RESP is based at Boston University and funded by a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

The Religion & Environment Story Project Fellowship supports journalists, editors, and public-facing academics who are producing – or want to learn how to produce – stories at the intersection of religion and the environment. A cohort of ten fellows will gather twice over the course of six months for practical, on-the-job training designed to develop new ways of thinking about the climate crisis and the role played by religious individuals and institutions in addressing (and ignoring) it. Participants will meet with working journalists and scholars in a collaborative seminar environment that will include wide ranging discussions on religion, spirituality, the environment, climate change, and journalism. We hope this format will inspire and inform the participants while offering peer learning and support from other journalists. It should also provide expert sources and story leads that will help fellows identify and create stories that other journalists are missing. 

RESP will cover travel, food, and lodging for our two workshops. We will also pay for a year’s membership for the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) or the Religion News Association (RNA), plus registration fees for either the SEJ or RNA annual conferences. Fellows will also receive a stipend of $1,000 after completing the program and committing to produce at least one story for a general audience. The application deadline is August 25, 2022, at 11:59 pm, ET.

Learn more about the 2021-2022 Fellows and apply for the fellowship on the RESP website.

How the pandemic remade science journalism

Read the full story at Scientific American.

Reporting on COVID has fundamentally changed the way I approach science journalism. I have gained a deeper appreciation for scientific knowledge as a process, not merely an end result. I have seen that it is not enough to simply follow the science—that skepticism of authority is warranted even when that authority comes from respected public health experts. And I have learned that science is always political—despite what many scientists like to think. These lessons have been won at a terrible expense. But failing to heed them could doom us to repeat this tragedy when the next pandemic comes.

Are Journalists Reporting on the Highest-Impact Climate Solutions? Findings from a Survey of Environmental Journalists

Amanda C. Borth, Eryn Campbell, Sammi Munson, Shaelyn M. Patzer, William A. Yagatich & Edward Maibach (2022) “Are Journalists Reporting on the Highest-Impact Climate Solutions? Findings from a Survey of Environmental Journalists.” Journalism Practice 16(2-3) 443-461, DOI: 10.1080/17512786.2021.2002711

Abstract: While the most promising climate change solutions have yet to be widely implemented, journalists are well-positioned to ensure that solutions are on the public’s agenda. Here, we investigate the climate solutions reporting interests and practices of environmental journalists (N = 592), paying particular attention to negative emissions technologies (NETs). We found that most environmental journalists are reporting on adaptation and resilience stories and renewable energy stories; additionally, over half were interested in and had recently reported on negative emissions solutions. A quantitative content analysis of participants’ descriptions of their most recent negative emissions story found: (1) many of these stories did not appear to be about NETs per se, (2) participants were more likely to focus on nature-based rather than technological NETs, and (3) participants are particularly interested in reporting on the feasibility of NETs. While these results are promising, resources to support journalists in reporting about climate solutions may be helpful, particularly on navigating the nuances of negative emissions technologies.

Columbia Journalism Review publishes two-part series on decline of local news reporting, why it matters, and how to improve it

The Columbia Journalism Review recently published a two-part series by Steve Waldman on the decline of local news reporting. It’s worth a look because, as the author points out in part one, “academic studies show that the local news collapse has likely led to lower voter turnout and bond ratings, and more corruptionwasteair pollution, and corporate crime.”

Part two of the series explores how to create a better local news system, including better service for communities of color and rural areas, and looks at how to improve the business model for local news.

Webinar: Storylines for 2022: Where Does Climate Journalism Hit the Wall?

Mar 24, 2022, 10:30 am CDT
Register here.

Climate journalism is at a turning point, as the day-to-day impacts of the climate crisis deepen and people everywhere search for the next, best thing they can do to make a difference.

The science says we have until 2030 to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 45%. We know where the emissions are coming from. The solutions are practical, affordable, and ready for prime time. So the race is on.

But it isn’t that simple. Different groups across society—governments, industries, citizens—can influence different parts of the problem. The solutions aren’t always as easy as they seem. So getting the right information to people who need it most is one of the key ingredients of the climate response everyone is looking for.

That means climate journalism plays an essential role in getting the climate emergency under control. But it often hits a wall—when a news outlet can’t follow a story to its conclusion, or when focused knowledge in areas like climate finance, municipal climate action, or a decarbonized power grid doesn’t reach the audiences that can put it to use.

Join our expert panel of journalists and climate practitioners to learn how climate journalism can:

  • Tell the stories that help drive faster, deeper carbon cuts;
  • Spotlight the gaps that are slowing down the shift off carbon;
  • Assemble the audiences that can use timely, targeted information to make a difference.

There is a new boom in climate-related coverage and storytelling

Read the full story at Treehugger.

Is the climate crisis finally getting the attention it deserves?

Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication

Application deadline: April 3, 2022

The National Academies Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication encourage high-quality science communication and help build a diverse community of science journalists, research scientists, and institutions, which will help society meet the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change, future pandemics, human genome editing, and other issues that can only be understood and navigated with the help of effective science communication. 

The awards present prizes to science journalists and research scientists who have developed creative, original work that addresses issues and advances in science, engineering, and/or medicine for the general public.

Submissions are accepted in six categories: freelance journalists, early career journalists, reporting at the local/regional level (science journalism); and graduate students, early career researchers, and later career researchers (science communication by research scientists).

Hydrogen rainbow may dazzle, but journalists should eye it warily

Read the full story from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Hydrogen energy will probably not solve the climate crisis. But we are hearing a lot of hype about its energy these days, so environmental journalists would be wise to learn more.