Q&A Column Resumes with New Co-Editors, New Award Winners

April 8, 2020

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Inside Story: Column Resumes with New Co-Editors, Award Winners

As the April 24 deadline approaches for submitting your great work for the Society of Environmental Journalists Awards for Reporting on the Environment, SEJournal Online is planning to reinvigorate its long-standing Inside Story column.

Inside Story co-editor Emilia Askari

Inside Story is a question-and-answer feature 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.

The feature now has a pair of new column co-editors, along with a deep reservoir of new Q&As to bring your way starting later this spring. 

The Inside Story feature will resume under the editorship of two members of SEJ’s awards committee, Emilia Askari and Parimal Rohit.

The two will also join the SEJ’s Editorial Advisory Board.

First up in the new series of Q&As will be a conversation with SEJ member Apoorva Mandavilli about her reporting on Bhopal, which won third place in 2019 in the outstanding feature story category.

Mandavilli’s advice on covering the echoes of one of the world’s most famous industrial disasters clearly resonates today, as journalists around the world scramble to cover a different disaster, COVID-19.


Askari an SEJ veteran, Rohit an awards committee member

Askari served on SEJ’s first elected board and as SEJ’s second president. A former reporter for Detroit Free Press and other newspapers, Askari now teaches environmental journalism at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she co-chaired SEJ’s second annual conference. She reprised the conference co-chair role in 2018 when SEJ’s annual conference was hosted by the University of Michigan-Flint. 

Inside Story co-editor Parimal Rohit

Rohit is a journalist, editor and video content producer, who serves as managing editor of The Log, a California publication covering boating and fishing news. He co-founded and serves as CEO and publisher of the Asian Highway, a media outlet reporting on the Asian American experience, and is the long-time lead reporter in Southern California for the Bay Area-based ethnic newspaper, IndiaWest.

As members of SEJ’s awards committee, Rohit and Askari do not judge award entries, but rather address the constant and challenging job of clarifying SEJ’s award rules as the work of environmental journalists evolves. How to define environmental journalism and environmental journalists has been a struggle since the beginning of SEJ. 

Other recent questions tackled by the awards committee have involved defining audience size and newsroom size for purposes of prize categories. Awards committee members also help recruit judges. Anyone interested in supporting SEJ as a future awards judge should email sej@sej.org.


Ten award categories, student prize renewed

SEJ’s award program honors the best environmental journalism in 10 categories, bringing recognition to the most important stories on the planet. Prizes of $500 for first-place winners and $250 for second-place winners in all categories. 

In addition, 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 prize 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 and be recognized at the awards presentation ceremony in September 2020, during SEJ's 30th Annual Conference in Boise, Idaho.

In 2020, SEJ is once again offering student journalists the opportunity for recognition through the Outstanding Student Reporting Award for undergraduate, graduate and high-school students. Prizes include first place: $500, trophy and certificate; second place: $250 and certificate; third place and honorable mentions: certificate.

Get more information about how to enter SEJ’s awards contest. Remember, the deadline is April 24, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. 

* From the weekly news magazine SEJournal Online, Vol. 5, No. 14. Content from each new issue of SEJournal Online is available to the public via the SEJournal Online main page. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here. And see past issues of the SEJournal archived here.

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