June 24, 2008

N.Y. Times Honored for Environmental Reporting on China

A series on the pollution and devastating environmental impact of China's development wins the 2008 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment.

A series by The New York Times on the pollution and devastating environmental impact of China's development has won the 2008 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment.

Times reporters David Barboza, Keith Bradsher, Howard French, Joseph Kahn, Chang W. Lee, Jimmy Wang and Jim Yardley will receive the $75,000 prize for their 10-part series "Choking on Growth." The Grantham Prize was created by the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at the University of Rhode Island and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. The prize honors the work of one journalist or team of journalists for exemplary reporting on the environment.

The jurors for this year's prize called The Times' series "environmental journalism of the highest order, shaped for the 21st century." The series describes pollution so severe that it is causing the premature deaths of nearly a million Chinese citizens yearly. The team reported that China is destroying its own landscape and waterways, killing off species and fouling the air and water of much of the rest of the planet. Reaction to this series was striking because it flowed not only from the U.S. but also from China, which has long ignored the foreign press.

"The stories, photographs and graphics on the printed page are outstanding," the jurors wrote. "Even more impressive is the online presentation, which includes compelling videos, reader-interactive forums, question-and-answer sessions with scientific and political experts and - perhaps most importantly - versions of the original stories translated into Mandarin, for the consumption of readers within China."

Soon after the articles were published, the Chinese government responded with reforms, taking steps to discourage exports by polluting industries. Beijing pledged to expand the country's nature reserves and adopted measures to tighten regulation of seafood production.

Jurors also selected three Award of Special Merit recipients, each receiving a $5,000 award:

- David Malakoff and Alison Richards, editors of the National Public Radio News series, "Climate Connections: How people change climate, how climate changes people." The series pooled the resources of NPR News programs to take listeners on a global journey to understand the impact of climate change and how humans are responding.

- Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach News-Journal for her richly detailed seven-part series, "Natural Treasures -- Are We Losing Our Way?" Pulver examined the environmental consequences of various commercial and development pressures in central Florida, with the dual goals of educating the public and inspiring action.

- Ed Struzik, for his series, "The Big Thaw -- Arctic in Peril," which ran in two of Canada's major newspapers, the Edmonton Journal and the Toronto Star. Grantham Prize jurors were impressed by the way Struzik blended scientific information and highly readable personal journalism to tell the story of how a changing climate has adversely affected the people, wildlife, and culture of the Arctic, and why this should matter to the rest of the world.

The Grantham Prize and the three Awards of Special Merit will be presented at a Sept. 8 ceremony and seminar to be held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

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