Inside Story

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Inside Story is a regular question-and-answer feature of SEJournal Online in which we hear from award-winning journalists about the behind-the-scenes practices, ideas and breakthroughs that led to their best work, and their advice to other journalists about how to excel. For questions and comments, or to suggest future Inside Story features, email SEJournal Online Inside Story Q&A co-editors Emilia Askari or Parimal Rohit at sejournaleditor@sej.org.

Be sure to check out past winners of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment. Here's the list of winners from 20212020 and 2019.

October 5, 2022

  • Electric utilities may sound like a wonky beat, but in the hands of L.A. Times’ Sammy Roth, it became an opportunity to weave together seemingly dry, technical subject matter into a series of award-winning stories on natural gas that captured flash points for climate change, communities of color and energy politics. Roth shares his reporting experience in the latest Inside Story Q&A.

August 24, 2022

  • Rare parrots, captured in the wild and relocated to a European zoo, are at the heart of an award-winning feature that explores the role of private actors in conservation. Journalist Brendan Borrell (pictured, left) talks about the ethical concerns raised by the controversial figure at the heart of his Audubon Magazine piece, and offers advice on making the most of having an investigation scooped.

July 13, 2022

  • As Brazil’s wetlands burned and as the country illegally shipped wood from the Amazon and scaled back environmental enforcement amid the pandemic, award-winning journalist Jake Spring of Reuters was there, telling tough, sometimes dangerous stories. Spring shares insights into his “just the facts” reporting, including the surprises and the lessons, and offers some practical advice in this Inside Story Q&A.

June 8, 2022

  • The challenges of sustainable aquaculture are at the heart of an extensive reporting project recognized in the Society of Environmental Journalists’ most recent round of reporting awards. In this Inside Story Q&A, Hakai Magazine’s founding editor, Jude Isabella (pictured at left), and author Brian Payton share insights into the series, which looks closely at the industry and its environmental costs.

May 11, 2022

  • A casual query from an editor prompted an investigative reporter to pair up with a data journalism reporter at a partner news organization to dig into the risks that thousands of dry oil wells across California posed to surrounding communities, including many low-income Latino neighborhoods. How the resulting award-winning series came together, in an Inside Story Q&A with reporter Mark Olalde.

April 13, 2022

March 16, 2022

  • Sweeping, data-driven reporting on the impact of the Trump White House on environment policy won high praise for a Washington Post reporting team that took first prize for beat reporting in the most recent Society of Environmental Journalists’ reporting awards. Find out how award winners Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and John Muyskens approached this vast topic, in the new Inside Story Q&A.

January 5, 2022

  • A trove of confidential documents about a well-known groundwater pollution problem helped journalists Paul LaRocco and David M. Schwartz uncover how much had actually been hidden about the contamination’s severity and how it could have been kept from worsening. In the latest Inside Story Q&A, LaRocco and Schwartz share the story behind their award-winning investigation.

November 24, 2021

  • It was a seemingly mundane legal notice about a surface water discharge permit. But when Wyoming journalist Angus Thuermer Jr. took a closer look, he discovered that it would mean massive discharges of pollutants into local waters. Inside Story explains how Thuermer revealed the truth about the plans, prompting local protests and, ultimately, a withdrawal of the permit.

October 27, 2021

  • Beat reporters Hal Bernton and Mark Kaufman both found the dramatic changes wrought by climate change to be at the center of their coverage — as their work was elevated to prize-winning heights. Bernton, covering climate impacts in northwestern Alaska at a large newspaper, and Kaufman, covering CO2 globally for a digital platform, talk about the lessons of their recent beat coverage with SEJournal’s Inside Story.

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