New Antarctic Adventures, Award-Winning Collaborations and New Media Jobs for SEJ Members

July 15, 2011

Media on the Move

By JUDY FAHYS

Susan Moran, a Boulder, Colo. member of SEJ, continues to work on a variety of projects generated from her time as an Antarctica fellow on the Marine Biological Laboratory’s month-long Logan Science Journalism Program over the winter.

Moran crossed the Drake Passage on a research vessel and spent more than two weeks at Palmer Station on the Western Antarctic Peninsula (dubbed the “Banana Belt” of Antarctica because it’s balmy compared with McMurdo and the South Pole station locations). Moran blogged at OnEarth magazine’s website and on her own website.

She also reported on site for a weekly science show on KGNU radio (Denver/Boulder) and began work on print and radio features that will appear in the coming months.

Her adventures included walking up the glacier behind Palmer around midnight — magical sunset hour during the austral summer — and hearing the roar of its calving — “a bittersweet sight,” she said, “given how fast the glacier has been receding in recent years.” Moran also hung out by Adelie penguin colonies, witnessing their comical and tender interactions as they incubated their eggs.

Moran said the experience left little time for sleep, partly because the austral summer upset the circadian rhythm and partly because she had so much to do.

“Between following and interviewing scientists and then working in the lab most days, writing articles and blogs at night, and feeling too wired or exhilarated in the wee hours of the morning,” she said, “sleep was not a high priority — a small price to pay for a peek at the bottom of the world.”

Meanwhile, a collaboration in northern California on the health hazards of wood-stove smoke garnered a first-place award from the Association of Health Care Journalists.

The four-part series focused on potential health hazards of the wood-burning stoves used by countless households in California and across the continent. Produced as a partnership between the new Center for Health Reporting at the University of Southern California and the Chico Enterprise-Record, a 30,000-circulation MediaNews daily in rural far Northern California, the series won in the community newspaper category for papers with a circulation of less than 150,000.

David Little of the Enterprise-Record rallied his small newsroom staff to cover this story from all angles. Nine staffers —reporters, editors, photographers, etc. — worked on this project while doing their usual assignments. The Center for Health Reporting, a small team of six health care journalists based at USC that receives non-profit funding to work with media outlets throughout California on stories affecting their local communities,sent Richard Kipling and Deborah Schoch to Chico for a month to assist the newspaper.

“I’m heartened that “A Burning Issue” won this award, since it represents a new collaborative approach to specialty journalism,” Schoch said in an email. “Because of my own background in environmental journalism — and with SEJ — it’s great to see a project on air pollution recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists.”

The partnership is just one of many noteworthy projects reported this year by SEJ members.

Former SEJ board member Peter Dykstra, formerly of CNN’s science news team and the Pew Charitable Trusts, joined Environmental Health Sciences this spring as publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate, led by former SEJ board member Marla Cone and current SEJ board member Douglas Fischer. His main focus: working to increasethe reach of EHN and The Daily Climate, and to expand their value as sources of original content and as news aggregators.

Dykstra, who will work from home in Conyers, Georgia, was a producer at CNN for 17 years, from 1991 to 2009. He won an Emmy for the coverage of Mississippi River floods in 1993, the DuPont Columbia Award for coverage of the 2004 quake and tsunami, and the 2005 Peabody Award for Hurricane Katrina coverage. All three of these were shared with a host of others at CNN.

Christy George is back at Oregon Public Broadcasting, this time producing for television, including another segment for History Detectives and an hour-long documentary about the Columbia River Gorge.

Deborah Fryer developed a 21-minute documentary for the Colorado School of Public Health and Denver Urban Gardens about the intersections between community gardening and public health. Fryer wrote and edited the film. She also contributed about five minutes’ worth of beauty shots of the gardens. The clip can be seen online here.

Dawn Stover landed a full-time stint as an editor for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists from April through June, the weeks following the massive earthquake and tsunami at the Fukushima nuclear plant in northern Japan. Said Stover: “It’s an interesting time to be there.”

David Biello told Media on the Move that his PBS documentary aired nationwide — “finally”— in April, May and — June. Here’s a link to the Beyond the Light Switch web site.

Christine Heinrichs had an interesting wildlife crime story run in The Cambrian last spring.

“A story this long (4,000 words) is unique for them,” she wrote, “but it was a shocking local crime that officials declined to explain. I was able to get the lead investigator to tell me about his investigation, although not every detail was shared. The perp died before they could get an indictment.”

Meanwhile, Christie Aschwanden’s feature story, “Pet Project,” was named a finalist for a National Magazine Award. She wrote the story for Runner’s World, where she is a contributing editor.

Cara Ellen Modisett, editor-at-large of Blue Ridge Country magazine, reporter/producer for WVTF public radio, was keynote speaker at the annual Roanoke Regional Writers Conference at the end of January, at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. This is the conference’s fourth year.

Eve Byron reported that, in January, she became an “adjunct professor,” team-teaching a “Writing for News Media” course at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. Besides being special projects editor for the [Helena] Independent Record, she covers natural resources and federal agencies.

Craig Saunders said he has a book coming out soon, a library reference for a sixth-grade audience, “What is the Theory of Plate Tectonics?” by Crabtree Publishing Company.

Carolyn Johnsen will retire in June from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she has taught science writing since 2004. Before this gig, she was a general-assignment reporter for the Nebraska Public Radio Network, although she focused her reporting on the environment and agriculture. In retirement, Johnsen plans to write rather than talk about writing her book on the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska. She will continue her membership in SEJ.

Dan Sullivan wrote that BioCycle, a magazine covering composting, renewable energy and organics recycling for more than a half century, moved across town in Emmaus, Penn. Following 20 years in the same location, the monthly publication and its publisher JG Press have settled into a rehabbed historical foundry building. It meant cozier digs for the staff of seven, helped jumpstart spring cleaning and embodied the magazine’s philosophy of preserving valuable resources.

Judy Fahys is environment reporter at The Salt Lake Tribune. Contact her about news of your latest award, book project or job change at fahys@sltrib.com

* From the quarterly newsletter SEJournal, Summer 2011 issue.