2016 David Stolberg Meritorious Service Award Winner

Tim Wheeler. © Photo courtesy of Dale Willman.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of SEJ. This conference [#SEJ2016] is proof of that. Member-volunteers chair the conference, lead tours, and plan and moderate the panels. Throughout the rest of the year they also implement the awards program, contribute to SEJournal, serve as mentors, and actively participate on committees. Without the generous efforts of volunteers, SEJ wouldn’t have the same reach or influence, and it wouldn’t be the same warm, grassroots organization we all have come to love.

And so in 1998, the board created an award to honor an exceptional volunteer and named it after SEJ founder David Stolberg. This year’s winner is well known for his years of service on the SEJ board, including two years as president. But this award recognizes the incredible volunteer work he’s done since then. He's served as a guiding light for the Fund for Environmental Journalism. He’s consistently delivered as a conference moderator, tour leader, and SEJournal contributor. He’s been generous with his expertise on the SEJ listserv and been a cherished advisor to our executive director. And perhaps most crucial now, in this time of decreasing government transparency, he’s led SEJ’s Freedom of Information task force—providing testimony, coordinating with other journalism groups, and addressing members’ concerns. Just two weeks ago he stepped in and called the Forest Service’s DC office when a member had trouble securing an interview. The interview was approved within minutes.

So a huge thank you, from all of us, to this year’s David Stolberg Meritorious Service Award winner—a long-time Baltimore Sun environment reporter, now the managing editor of the Bay Journal, Tim Wheeler.


This annual award honors exceptional volunteer work by an SEJ member. It was created by the SEJ board in 1998 and named in honor of SEJ founder David Stolberg.

Much of SEJ's best work is accomplished by member-volunteers: tour and panel organizers for the conference, awards program leaders, contributors to SEJournal, SEJ-talk and www.sej.org, freedom-of-information watchdogs, mentors, and leaders in diversity outreach. Volunteers define the heart and soul of SEJ, and they expand the group's reach and significance in ways that are not easily measured.

David Stolberg had a 38-year career with Scripps Howard that included duties for the Scripps Howard Foundation's annual Meeman Awards for excellence in environmental reporting. Stolberg always believed in "the value of networking, of the subliminal training that comes from an association with one's peers." In the 1980s, when Stolberg was assistant general editorial manager of Scripps Howard, he came up with the SEJ idea and kept suggesting it to Meeman winners until he found one who was willing to put in the volunteer time to organize with other journalists and make something happen. That person was SEJ's founding president, Jim Detjen.

Stolberg died May 24, 2011 at age 83.