2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
Brandon Loomis, Rick Egan & David Noyce Winner: Brandon Loomis, Rick Egan & David Noyce “Our Dying Forests” The Salt Lake Tribune James Astill Winner: James Astill “Seeing the Wood” The Economist Alanna Mitchell Winner: Alanna Mitchell “Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis” McClelland & Stewart (Canada) and The University of Chicago Press (U.S.A.) Blake Morrison and Brad Heath Winner: Blake Morrison & Brad Heath “The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America’s Schools” USA Today David Barboza, Keith Bradsher, Howard French, Joseph Kahn, Mark Landler, Chang W. Lee, Jimmy Wang, and Jim Yardley Winner: David Barboza, Keith Bradsher, Howard French, Joseph Kahn, Mark Landler, Chang W. Lee, Jimmy Wang, and Jim Yardley “Choking on Growth” The New York Times Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling Winner: Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling “Altered Oceans” The Los Angeles Times Jan Barry, Thomas E. Franklin, Mary Jo Layton, Tim Nostrand, Alex Nussbaum, Tom Troncone, Debra Lynn Vial, Lindy Washburn, Barbara Williams Winner: Jan Barry, Thomas E. Franklin, Mary Jo Layton, Tim Nostrand, Alex Nussbaum, Tom Troncone, Debra Lynn Vial, Lindy Washburn, Barbara Williams “Toxic Legacy” The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
Paul Greenberg Awards of Special Merit: Paul Greenberg “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” Penguin Press Jeff Goodell Awards of Special Merit: Jeff Goodell “How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Dan Egan Awards of Special Merit: Dan Egan Environmental Beat Reporting Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Tad Fettig, Karena Albers, & Veronique Bernard Awards of Special Merit: Tad Fettig, Karena Albers, & Veronique Bernard “e2: transport” kontentreal Dinah Voyles Pulver Awards of Special Merit: Dinah Voyles Pulver “Our Natural Treasures – Are We Losing Our Way?” Daytona Beach News Journal Eugene Linden Awards of Special Merit: Eugene Linden “The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations” Simon & Schuster Douglas Fischer Awards of Special Merit: Douglas Fischer “A Body’s Burden: Our Chemical Legacy” Oakland Tribune
UNC News 21 Team Awards of Special Merit: Caitlyn Greene, Catherine Orr, Catherine Spangler, Delphine Andrews, Hadley Gustafson, Hely Olivares, Jeffrey Mittelstadt, Kristen Long, Mimi Schiffman, Sarah Riazati, Whitney Baker, and Laura Ruel Coal: A Love Story News21 Fellows, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Journalism and Mass Communication Associated Press Awards of Special Merit: Richard T. Pienciak, Ron Harris, Justin Pritchard, Jeff Donn, Mitch Weiss, Michael Kunzelman, Seth Borenstein, Rich Matthews, Jason Bronis, Tamara Lush, Mike Baker, Holbrook Mohr, Dave Clark, Fielding Cage, Merrill Sherman, Peter Prengaman, and Cain Burdeau Oil Spill Reporting Associated Press Cleo Paskal Awards of Special Merit: Cleo Paskal “Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map” Key Porter Books (Canada) and Palgrave Macmillan (U.S.A.) Andrew Nikiforuk Awards of Special Merit: Andrew Nikiforuk “Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent” Greystone Books Alison Richards and David Malakoff Awards of Special Merit: Alison Richards and David Malakoff “Climate Connections: How people change climate, how climate changes people” National Public Radio East Oregonian Publishing Company Awards of Special Merit: Patrick Webb, The Daily Astorian; Phil Wright, Hal McCune and Samantha Bates, The East Oregonian; Kate Ramsayer, Cassandra Profita and Kara Hansen, The Daily Astorian; Elaine Shein, Tam Moore, Cookson Beecher, Bob Krauter, Mitch Lies, Patricia McCoy and Scott Yates, The Capital Press; Elizabeth Long and Cate Gable, The Chinook Observer, Scott Mallory, The Blue Mountain Eagle; Dave Hassler and Andrew Wilkins, The Wallowa Chieftain “Our Climate is Changing… Ready or Not” East Oregonian Publishing Company Elizabeth Kolbert Awards of Special Merit: Elizabeth Kolbert “The Climate of Man” The New Yorker
Gary Marcuse, Betsy Carson, & Shi Lihong Awards of Special Merit: Gary Marcuse, Betsy Carson, & Shi Lihong Waking the Green Tiger: A Green Movement Rises in China Face to Face Media Hedrick Smith, Rick Young, Marc Shaffer, Peter Pearce,
    Penny Trams, Catherine Rentz, Fritz Kramer Awards of Special Merit: Hedrick Smith, Rick Young, Marc Shaffer, Peter Pearce, Penny Trams, Catherine Rentz, Fritz Kramer “Poisoned Waters” Hedrick Smith Productions for PBS Frontline Susanne Rust & Meg Kissinger Awards of Special Merit: Susanne Rust & Meg Kissinger “Chemical Fallout” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Ed Struzik Awards of Special Merit: Ed Struzik “The Big Thaw – Arctic in Peril” The Edmonton Journal and the Toronto Star Dimming the Sun Awards of Special Merit: A DOX production for NOVA/WGBH and the BBC “Dimming the Sun: What Does This Climate Conundrum Mean for the Future of Earth?” NOVA/WGBH and the BBC WBAL Channel 11 Awards of Special Merit: John Sherman and Beau Kershaw “Dirty Secret” WBAL-TV, Baltimore, MD

2007 Grantham Prize Winner

Altered Oceans

Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling

“Altered Oceans”
The Los Angeles Times

Altered Oceans website

Visit the Altered Oceans website

The Los Angeles Times’ five-part series, Altered Oceans, examined a profound disturbance in the ecology of the seas, in arresting and accessible detail. The articles by Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling showed how man-made stresses are not merely sullying the Earth’s oceans, but altering their basic composition and chemistry. As a result, numerous marine animals are in retreat and the oceans’ most primitive life forms – algae, bacteria and jellyfish – are on the rise.

Grantham Prize Jury Comments on Altered Oceans

Numerous authoritative reports in recent years have documented the degradation of the world’s oceans, predicting a catastrophic decline in marine ecosystems and the fish species dependent on them unless urgent remedial measures get under way.

But the decline of the oceans is one of those problems that seems so remote and so big as to be beyond the power of ordinary human beings to do anything about. Therein lies one of the great virtues of Kenneth R. Weiss’s extraordinary series, “Altered Oceans,” in the Los Angeles Times. The forces that are killing the oceans, he and colleague Usha Lee McFarling reported, are almost entirely the result of human actions. And the remedies will also depend on us humans.

The Times series describes in arresting and accessible detail profound disturbances in the ecology of the seas. Stresses resulting from human activities have not merely polluted the oceans but altered their basic chemistry. As a result, fish, corals and marine mammals are in retreat and the oceans’ most primitive life forms — algae, bacteria and jellyfish — are proliferating.

The reporters did more than simply research the literature and talk to the best minds. They went to the scene to make the case. Weiss swam to the mouth of a giant sewer pipe in south Florida, watched as a marine biologist probed the brain of a sea lion fatally damaged by algae, examined dying coral reefs off the coast of Jamaica, probed the causes of a harmful algal bloom in the Gulf of Mexico, and exhaustively inventoried the plastic junk and other detritus that fouls even the most remote beaches.

This extraordinary series gives life to all those generalities about the decline of the oceans in a way that should grab the imaginations not only of politicians responsible for taking corrective steps but also of ordinary readers. The leaders of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus distributed copies to every member of the House with a cover letter urging that they review it because the “conditions it describes are a threat to our national security, economy and environment.” And hundreds of readers wrote in to thank the Times for describing the crisis in such vivid, persuasive detail and for educating them about where the blame ultimately lies: at humanity’s doorstep.

About the Altered Oceans Team:

Kenneth Weiss

Kenneth Weiss

Kenneth R. Weiss

Ken Weiss covers the coast and oceans for the Los Angeles Times. He began working for the L.A. Times in 1990. From 1992 until 1996 he served as an assistant city editor in Ventura and then returned to the ranks of reporters covering higher education, government and politics. Before coming to the L.A. Times in 1990, Weiss spent six years in Washington, D.C., as a correspondent for newspapers owned by the New York Times and as a reporter for States News Service. In addition to The Grantham Prize, the “Altered Oceans” series won a number of national and international awards including the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting, George Polk Award for environmental reporting, Columbia Journalism School’s John B. Oakes Award, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Award, and American Geophysical Union’s Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism. Weiss was born and raised in the Southern California. He received a bachelor’s degree in folklore from University of California, Berkeley, where he was editor of the college newspaper, The Daily Californian

Usha Lee McFarling

Usha Lee McFarling

Usha Lee McFarling

Usha Lee McFarling is a free-lance science writer and until recently was a national science reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Prior to working for the L.A. Times, McFarling worked for the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, the Boston Globe and the San Antonio Light. She was awarded an MIT/Knight Science Journalism Fellowship in 1992. McFarling earned a masters degree in biological psychology/animal behavior in 1998 from the University of California, Berkeley. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1988 from Brown University where she had been a science reporter at Rhode Island’s second largest newspaper: the Brown Daily Herald. She was a 2007 co-recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism.