Outstanding Student Reporting: SEJ 22nd Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment

First Place and Honorable Mention, Nina Mason Pulliam Award for Outstanding Environmental Reporting

"Gaslit" by Aydali Campa, Jimmy Cloutier, Sarah Hunt, Mollie Jamison, Isabel Koyama, Laura Kraegel, Maya Leachman, Michael McDaniel, Andrew Onodera, Kenneth Quayle, Nicole Sadek, Isaac Simonelli, Rachel Stapholz, Sarah Suwalsky, Zoha Tunio, Zachary Van Arsdale and Alexis Young, Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism, published by Cronkite News/AZPBS

Screenshot of first-place Student Reporting story
Screenshot of first-place Student Reporting story


Story links:

  1. "How the Volume of Greenhouse Gases Released by the Oil and Gas Industry Far Exceeds What Regulators Think They Know"
  2. "Flaring Profits: The Economics of Burning Gas"
  3. "How One Native American Tribe Is Battling for Control Over Flaring"
  4. "Gaslit" (video)
  5. "Satellite Data Helps Reveal Extent of Flaring in Key States"

Judges' comments: "This series of stories offered readers strong reporting on the under-reported venting and flaring of natural gas from the oil and gas industry. These grad-student journalists demonstrated a good grasp of the subject, including the use of satellite data. Each story in the series added to the narrative thread of the series. 'Gaslit' was a unanimous first-place winner."

About the winning project: ASU’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism brings together graduate students and high-achieving undergraduates at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to produce national multimedia investigations in collaboration with professional newsrooms. Supported by the Scripps Howard Fund, the Howard Center’s award-winning journalism has been published by professional media around the U.S. and beyond. “Gaslit” was carried by The Associated Press, Inside Climate News, GrayTV’s InvestigateTV and Newsy. Seventeen students and three researchers spent a year reporting and producing the project. Most of them have since graduated and have gone on to work at such newsrooms as ICIJ, Bloomberg, the Arizona Center for Investigative Journalism, 12 News Phoenix and WBUR in Boston.



Second Place

"The Remains of Silence" by Maggie Wang, Yale University, published by Inherited

Judges' comments: "A compact but outstanding examination of how noise can threaten the environment, be it the sound of traffic, air conditioning or even the chatter of human voices. This is exemplary storytelling using the perfect medium, the podcast, to verbally explore the ramifications of sound."


Third Place

"WATERSHED: Florida and the Clean Water Act at 50" by Ellen Bausback, Sarah Breske, Marlena Carrillo, Katie Delk, Natalia Galicza, Alan Halaly, Alexandra Harris, Jordyn Kalman, Sara Lindsay, Jack Prator, Kalia Richardson and Marlowe Starling, University of Florida, published by WUFT News

Story links:

  1. "Shining Example"
  2. "Wake Up"
  3. "Spillover"
  4. "How Safe?"
  5. "Solutions"

Judges' comments: "This series took an in-depth look at how the landmark federal legislation affected Florida. It opens with an examination of the health of Tampa Bay both before and after the Clean Water Act's passage, and goes on to examine how the state is still failing to control sewer spills, agricultural runoff and other types of pollution. The series maintains a strong narrative thread throughout the individual stories and uses human-scale anecdotes to help explain what could otherwise be an overwhelmingly technical subject."


First Honorable Mention

"Low-Income School Districts Blocked From EPA's Clean School Bus Program" by Christina van Waasbergen, Northwestern University, published by Inside Climate News

Judges' comments: "A graduate student hears an off-hand comment at a Congressional hearing and that leads them into investigating how a well-meaning EPA rule had unintentional consequences. The result is a clear and insightful story about how bureaucracy can unwittingly bungle its goals."


Second Honorable Mention

"Time, Tradition and Trust: The Navajo Nation Takes on Climate Change" by Fiona L.Q. Flaherty, Arizona State University Cronkite School, published by Cronkite News/Arizona PBS

Judges' comments: "The story uses a specific example — a single creek on the remote Navajo nation — to illustrate the impact of climate change and the tribe's long-running effort to save its natural resources."


Third Honorable Mention

"Six Water Fountains Shut Off Due To High Lead Levels" by Delilah Brumer, print editor-in-chief and primary reporter, and Alan Ruiz, online editor-in-chief and secondary reporter, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, published by The Pearl Post

Judges' comments: "What an impressive investigative story by high school journalists who dealt with many school officials attempting to avoid disclosing the high lead levels in many Los Angeles school water fountains. These students deserve this honorable mention for refusing to give up. They persevered and wrote a story that had a deep impact on their audience. They exhibited the tenacity of professional journalists. It wasn't lost on these judges that these journalists attend a school named for noted journalist Daniel Pearl."


The Society of Environmental Journalists' annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment honor the best environmental journalism in 10 categories, bringing recognition to the stories that are among the most important on the planet. Prizes are $500 for first-place winners and $250 for second-place winners in all categories. Plus, the Nina Mason Pulliam Award for the "best of the best" environmental reporting will award $10,000 to one entry selected from the first-place winners of SEJ's Awards for Reporting on the Environment. The Pulliam Award also includes travel, registration and hotel expenses (up to $2,500) for the winner, or representatives of the winning team, to attend SEJ's annual conference.

The SEJ contest is the world's largest and most comprehensive environmental journalism competition. This year, a record-breaking 589 entries in 10 categories were judged by independent volunteer panels of journalists and professors.

On November 16, 2023, at SEJ's 2024 Journalists' Guide to Energy & Environment event in Washington, D.C., we'll announce live the winner of the Nina Mason Pulliam Award and its $10,000 cash prize.

SEJ's 2023 Esteemed Judges and Screeners
SEJ's 2023 Awards Committee

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