2008 Awards of Special Merit
“Our Natural Treasures – Are We Losing Our Way?”
Daytona Beach News Journal
Dinah Voyles Pulver, a sixth-generation Floridian, had written many stories during the past seven years about degradation of the state’s environment and natural beauty. With this series, the Daytona Beach News Journal endeavored to take their coverage to an even higher level. Pulver and the News Journal wanted to help readers appreciate the fundamental importance of the region’s imperiled natural systems, understand what was being lost and how they could make a difference.
Each part of the series, which ran over the course of twelve months, focused on a separate natural community – the ocean, beaches, wetlands, springs, longleaf pine forests, scrub lands, and the Indian River Lagoon. Each was accompanied by explanatory boxes, charts and graphs. Each was presented online with interactive graphics and a photo gallery.
Grantham Prize Jury Comments on Our Natural Treasures
Florida’s coastlines, estuaries and wetlands have been under severe stress for so long that many people, including some environmentalists, have pretty much given up the state for lost. More than 18 million people have crowded into an ecosystem capable of sustaining, at best, 11 million, inflicting steadily greater damage to the animal and plant life that lure Americans to Florida in the first place. And still they come — aided by a porous, easily-manipulated regulatory system and policies that elevate development and economic growth, however unsustainable, above all else.
The Daytona Beach News Journal, however, has refused to concede defeat. Last year, it assigned its experienced and gifted environmental reporter, Dinah Voyles Pulver, to examine the environmental consequences of industrial fishing, real estate development, and other commercial activities in the newspaper’s backyard, including Volusia and Flagler counties. Its purpose was not just to educate the paper’s readership but to inspire action.
The result is a comprehensive, richly- detailed seven-part series on the region’s imperiled natural systems and how they got that way. Each installment addressed a separate natural community – ocean, coastlines, wetlands, subsurface water supplies, longleaf pine forests, native scrublands and one of the world’s great marine nurseries, the Indian River Lagoon. Each installment was accompanied and strengthened by a dazzling array of explanatory boxes, charts, photographs and other graphics, and each was presented online with interactive graphics and a photo gallery. Ms. Pulver was fair-minded throughout, but left little doubt that aggressive action will be required to prevent further damage.
This series represented a significant commitment for a newspaper of moderate size, especially in these difficult times for print journalism. The Grantham Prize jurors find it well worth the effort and well worth emulating by other news organizations. The jurors find Pulver and the News-Journal fully deserving of a 2008 Grantham Prize Award of Special Merit.
About Dinah Voyles Pulver
Dinah Voyles Pulver has been The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s environment writer for more than seven years. She covers water, weather, growth, the state wildlife commission and other related issues. Prior to becoming the environment writer, she filled a variety of beats including health and business, and served as the paper’s Southwest Volusia Bureau Chief for three years.
Among awards she has received are a first place in explanatory journalism with Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and a Florida Award of Excellence for environmental reporting from a chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
She has attended environmental writing seminars with the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai, Hawaii, the National Press Foundation in Norman, OK and The New York Times Foundation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
“Climate Connections: How people change climate, how climate changes people”
National Public Radio
In May 2007, NPR launched “Climate Connections”, a year-long series that documents the relationships between humans and climate.
By the end of 2007, they had aired 170 “Climate Connections” stories on NPR News programs – including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and Day to Day. In addition, National Geographic helped produce video, print, and online materials.
“Climate Connections” took listeners on a global journey. Each month, the reporting focused on a different part of the world, including Europe, the South Pacific, Africa, the Arctic, South Asia, and Latin America. Stopping off on ice packs and deserts, in villages and cities, rich countries and poor, NPR journalists documented changing weather patterns, changing ecosystems, and changing lives.
“Climate Connections” also took a journey through time. To understand how global warming may change our lives in the future, they explored how past climate changes have shaped human history. History shows that humans respond to climate change in three ways, the NPR team argued: We adapt, we flee, or we die.
NPR launched “Climate Connections” “because global warming is forcing us to confront those three options.” The stories within this series document how we are – and are not – responding to the global challenge of climate change.
Grantham Prize Jury Comments on Climate Connections
Climate Connections is an ambitious year-long series of reports that began airing on several NPR News programs starting in May of 2007. By the end of the year, the 2008 Grantham competition deadline, 170 pieces had aired.
The Grantham Prize jurors were impressed by the wide-ranging nature of the coverage, which included reports from both poles and every continent – including some of the world’s most remote wild places. The series explains the science of climate change – a task that’s often given short shrift, or bogs down in scientific jargon. But this series used down-to-earth terms and metaphors that were both engaging and edifying. Some reports outlined the causes of the climate change problem. Others showed how plants, animals, and people are adapting to a warming world. Still others profiled individuals who are trying to change government policy – from climate change skeptics to those who firmly believe Earth is in trouble. And, perhaps most importantly, many reports featured actions nations and individuals can take. The stories were characterized by exceptional writing, interesting characters, and liberal use of natural sound that helped keep the pace lively.
Climate Connections includes an excellent web component, produced in collaboration with National Geographic. The site is a model of listener interaction, inviting people to calculate their lifestyle’s carbon output, submit questions about climate change, and suggest story ideas. Users can listen to the individual NPR radio reports on demand, see photographs and interactive graphics, and watch video. The Grantham jurors clearly recognize that the internet is an increasingly important venue for reaching the public.
Climate Connections provides a vital public service, bringing a critical topic home to NPR’s millions of listeners. The Grantham Prize jurors are pleased to award a 2008 Grantham Prize Award of Special Merit to National Public Radio’s Climate Connections.
About the Climate Connections Team:
Alison Richards, Deputy Supervising Editor and Correspondent for the NPR News Science Desk, has been with NPR since 1998. As Deputy Editor of the Science Desk, Richards helps oversee the NPR’s health, science, technical and environmental coverage, and directly manages the desk’s daily output of basic science stories. She initiates and manages major series such as “Where Science Meets Art” (2004), Krulwich on Science, (ongoing) and Climate Connections, which began in May 2007 and continued through April 2008.
Before joining NPR, Richards worked for many years for the BBC’s radio science unit in London. She also prepared major exhibits on the physical sciences, ecology, Celtic and medieval archaeology, and modern art and craft at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.
Ms. Richards has authored several books, including “A Passion for Science” and “Passionate Minds”, both co-authored with Lewis Wolpert, as well as “A Paradise out of a Common Field” and “The New Book of Apples”, both co-authored with Joan Morgan.
Since joining NPR in 2005, David Malakoff has helped oversee NPR’s coverage of science, technology and the environment, and produced his own stories on a wide range of topics. He is a co-editor of Climate Connections, and Deputy Supervising Editor and Correspondent for the NPR News Science Desk.
Prior to joining NPR, Mr. Malakoff spent 7 years at Science magazine covering the politics of science and research discoveries. He has also worked as a freelance journalist, nonprofit fundraiser, and director of an ecological research organization.
“The Big Thaw – Arctic in Peril”
The Edmonton Journal and the Toronto Star
Writer/photographer Ed Struzik spent the better part of a year in the Arctic investigating the impact that climate change is having on wildlife, the environment, aboriginal cultures, the economy as well as the threats it poses to security and sovereignty in northern Canada and the United States. During nine separate journeys, he traveled several thousand miles on foot, ski and snowmobile and on icebreakers, helicopters, bush planes and small boats to find out how Inuit hunters, scientists, oil men, miners and politicians view the future in a polar world that is warming fast.
With sea ice melting, glaciers receding and Arctic storms picking up steam, Mr. Struzik demonstrated how many Arctic coastal communities are vulnerable to flooding and erosion, how a warmer and shorter ice season means less time for polar bears to hunt seals and more time for mosquitoes and blackflies to take their toll on caribou, muskoxen and nesting birds. Beluga whales and narwhal, which hide under the ice to avoid killer whales could also be threatened.
The rest of the world won’t escape the changes that are already happening in the far north, according to the stories published in the Toronto Star and the Edmonton Journal, two of Canada’s largest newspapers. What happens in the Arctic, his stories demonstrated, matter to the rest of the world. Those who think there’s plenty of time for humans to adjust, he concludes, are misinformed. So far, climate models have not been wrong, but they have seriously underestimated how quickly the changes that have happened already will occur.
“The Big Thaw” was on the Toronto Star’s “best-read” list for 2007 based on an analysis of the newspaper’s website. A book version of the articles and photographs is scheduled for publication early in 2009.
Grantham Prize Jury Comments on The Big Thaw
“The Big Thaw” is a 30,000-word series of eight major articles on global warming and its effects on the Canadian Arctic. Originating as an independent project, the series was published simultaneously in the Edmonton Journal in Mr. Struzik’s hometown and in the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily. It was supported by the Toronto Star’s Atkinson Foundation. After publication of the series, the Star and the Journal each published compelling editorials urging the Canadian government to act on the issues Struzik’s reporting had identified.
The Grantham jurors were impressed by this excellent series and the way Struzik blended scientific information and highly readable personal journalism. The jurors concluded that the scientific basis of the series was beautifully explained. The Grantham jurors are pleased to recognize “The Big Thaw” as a winner of the 2008 Grantham Prize Award of Special Merit.
About Ed Struzik
Ed Struzik is a writer/photographer who has been writing about environmental issues for the past 28 years. His articles and photographs have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers, including Canadian Geographic, Equinox, International Wildlife (U.S.), Geo (Russia), Merian (Germany), Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Edmonton Journal where he now works as a senior writer.
Over the years, Mr. Struzik has received dozens of awards and honours for his work. These include the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy, the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT at Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Southern Fellowship at the University of Toronto and the Sir Sandford Fleming Medal, which goes to one Canadian each year who has made an outstanding contribution to the understanding of science in Canada. He is also a three-time winner of the Yves Fortier Award (Geological Association of Canada,) a six-time winner of the Canadian Science Writers Association Award, and a winner of multiple national magazine and national newspaper awards. Canada’s Governor General has honoured Mr. Struzik three times with Citations of Merit for his work (Roland Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.)
Mr. Struzik is the author of two books: Northwest Passage, published by the Canadian Geographic Society and Ten Rivers, which was published by CanWest Books. A third book, entitled The Big Thaw, is being published by John Wiley and Sons. It is scheduled for release in February 2009.