New Website Ventures and Social Media Initiatives Win Awards

January 15, 2011

Media on the Move


The website of OnEarth magazine,, relaunched this fall under the guidance of online editor Scott Dodd. In addition to a completely new look, the overhaul includes new web-only features and columns, greater reader engagement through social media and blogs, and expanded storytelling through videos, photo galleries and other multimedia. Reworking the site took more than a year and transformed the site into a lively new forum.

“When I became web editor last year, OnEarth was producing very little original content for the web, so the site was basically just updated every three months with new magazine stories,” he said. “Now we’re publishing more online than we do in print, and the web gives us the flexibility to do everything from quick-hit, newsy blog posts to monthly columns to in-depth features by great writers.”

Now, Dodd said, the online OnEarth is an equal, complementary partner with the print version.

“There are things that still make the most sense to do in print, and others that work better online,” he said. “But I think we’ve won over some doubters with both the quality and quantity of what we’ve been able to do on the website.”’s transformation was just one of many new projects, job changes, fellowships and awards reported up by SEJ members this fall. Among those reporting developments:

Christine Woodside, a Deep River, Connecticut-based freelancer, is covering the environment now for the Connecticut Mirror. She continues to edit Appalachia journal and write articles for magazines, websites, and newspapers.

Marsha W. Johnston began full-time work for the Earth Day Network in Washington DC as its Creative Director, responsible for the content of its web presence and other communications platforms. She can be reached on 1-202-518-0044, x50, and

Christy George had a stint as a producer for the PBS show “History Detectives.”

Daniel Gottlieb has two new books: The Fires of Home, a novel about the tipping point, and The Dialogues of Sancho and Quixote, Mythical Debates on Global Warming: 1997 - 2010, a set of humorous debates on anthropogenic forcing of the radiative balance. Both are published by Canopy Publishing.

Margaret T. Simpson authored a series on California city wellness programs for the site. The urban ecology series detailed how cities are changing the environment to help residents reduce obesity, incorporate walking and bicycling into their lifestyles and locate healthier food sources.

SEJ member Cara Ellen Modisett is now a graduate student in the creative nonfiction program at Goucher College in Maryland. Linked to that are a number of professional changes: she has stepped down from her full-time position as editor of Blue Ridge Country and is now editor-at-large for the magazine (the position includes writing, web editing and social media); she is also reporting more regularly for WVTF public radio and teaching writing for Community High School, an independent school in downtown Roanoke.

Sara Shipley Hiles starts as a full-time instructor in the journalism department at Bowling Green State University in Ohio in January 2011. Sara previously was a newspaper reporter, freelancer and part-time journalism instructor at Western Kentucky University, where her students are finalists for the 2010 Online Journalism Awards for their project on agriculture.

Jane Braxton Little presented an innovative wastewater-to-electricity project, described in a story she wrote for Scientific American, to energy investors and entrepreneurs at a J.P. Morgan conference in New York.

Margie Hobson joined Congressional Quarterly as a senior staff writer, covering energy and environmental issues among other things. The energy and environment reporter at the National Journal for two decades, she took a buyout in the summer.

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University organized a workshop for Kenyan and Tanzanian journalists this summer on the impact of climate change on East Africa. Knight Center director Jim Detjen and his graduate student Emma Ogutu organized the workshop.

An environmental summit on new economic models to support environmental journalism was held at Michigan State University on Oct. 23, 2010 as part of the MSU School of Journalism’s centennial activities. The summit was organized by Detjen and Carol Terracina, an MSU doctoral student in environmental journalism.

David Biello, associate editor of Environment & Energy for Scientific American, received a 2010 Jefferson Fellowship to look at two of the largest users of energy, the U.S. and China, and their efforts in addressing energy security.

Jennifer Weeks was a science journalism fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in September. The fellowship covered topics including underwater archaeology, whale conservation, ocean acidification, science in the Gulf of Mexico during the BP oil spill and deepwater corals.

Terri Hansen was selected to be an Earth Journalism Network 2010 Climate Media Fellow. The fellowship covered and arranged travel to Cancun to cover the climate talks Nov. 27- Dec. 11, accommodation for the full two weeks, per diems and COP16 accreditation.

Craig Miller and Gretchen Weber of KQED Climate Watch in San Francisco are the winners of the 2010 Environmental Journalism Innovators of the Year Award given by the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University. The two journalists were awarded for a “Matter of Degree,” which combines academic research and social media to advance the public discussion of climate change. The deadline for the 2011 contest is March 1, 2011.

New SEJ board member Tom Henry was named the 2010 recipient of the Clean Streams Partner Award by the Toledo-based Partners for Clean Streams. In the spring, an Ohio group called Science Alliance for Valuing the Environment gave him its top award of the year for environmental stewardship.

William R. Freudenburg and co-author Bob Gramling saw their book on the BP oil spill, Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America, as the Publishers Weekly “Pick of the Week.” The book is available both in electronic and good old-fashioned book forms from MIT Press.

Animal People editor Merritt Clifton received the 15th annual ProMED-mail Award for Excellence in Outbreak Reporting on the Internet, presented by the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

Frances Backhouse won the Butler Book Prize for her Children of the Klondike, published by Whitecap Books.

The Knight-Risser Prize gave SEJer Dawn Stover special recognition for her article, “Troubled Teens,” in Conservation magazine. The piece examines the decline and the demographics of the West’s cougar population, which is increasingly running into conflict with human populations.

Elizabeth Kolbert won a $100,000 Heinz Award for “groundbreaking environmental journalism and devotion to informing readers.”

Judy Fahys is an environment reporter at The Salt Lake Tribune. Contact her with your news of awards, job changes or new book projects at

* From the quarterly newsletter SEJournal, Winter 2010-11 issue.

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