Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Grantham Prize, Awards of Special Merit to be given in Rhode Island

Early next week, I get to see Rhode Island for a short period of time. I’ll be representing Capital Press as I join some colleagues from our sister newspaper the Daily Astorian as we travel to Rhode Island to accept an Award of Special Merit for the work our newspapers in the East Oregonian Publishing Co. did on climate change last year.

We were invited to do more than pick up our award: on Sept. 24 we will attend the 2007 Grantham Prize Seminar on the State of Environmental Journalism Reporting on Global Change: Science, Policy and the News.

We’re being hosted by the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, at Narrangasett, R.I.

The Grantham Prize and the merit awards are quite prestigious, and haven’t been around for long.

According to the website about it:

“Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham established the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment (GPERE) in September 2005 to annually recognize and honor the work of one journalist or team of journalists for exemplary reporting on the environment.
"The public deserves ready access to the kind of information and news that only outstanding independent journalism can provide," the Granthams said in announcing the prize, which is administered by the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, housed at the University of Rhode Island's world-renowned Graduate School of Oceanography. They say they want their annual award of $75,000 to "give that kind of reporting the honor, respect, and visibility it needs."
The purpose of the Prize is to encourage outstanding coverage of the environment, to recognize reporting that has the potential to bring about constructive change, and to broadly disseminate the Prize-winning story to increase public awareness and understanding of issues focusing on the environment.

It will be a busy day. We will hear from the people behind the series who won the Grantham Prize this year: “The Los Angeles Times’ five-part series, Altered Oceans, examined a profound disturbance in the ecology of the seas. The articles showed how man-made stresses are not merely sullying the Earth's oceans, but altering their basic composition and chemistry. As a result, numerous marine animals are in retreat and the oceans' most primitive life forms – algae, bacteria and jellyfish – are on the rise.”

The LA Times team will explain why and how they did the series. Then the three merit award winners will discuss what they did and how they covered the environment.

Patrick Webb, who coordinated our climate change special series, will spend some time talking about how we did our series, especially considering we have much more modest resources and a smaller staff in several places in Oregon and Washington state. Nineteen reporters from our six publications wrote for this series. We also relied on photographers, copyeditors, and people to help design graphics and do layout of our packages. We’re proud of the great effort done by everyone involved in the project.

For anyone who wishes to see or download the EOPC climate change coverage can click here.

The president and CEO of our company, Steve Forrester, will also be involved in the seminar to talk about the state of environmental reporting. Forrester will be ideal because he was the visionary behind our project.

As written on the Metcalf Institute website announcing the winners:

This was the East Oregonian Publishing Company's biggest corporate-wide commitment to a special topic. The company's president and CEO, Steve Forrester, summed up the mission on the first day of the series: "Climate change is the biggest, most significant challenge of the 21st century. That is why the newspapers of the East Oregonian Publishing Co. are pooling their resources for [this] occasional series ... This is an extraordinary commitment for a newspaper group of our size. From our varied geographical vantage points, our reporters and editors will describe what scientists, naturalists and ordinary citizens are observing and predicting."

There were two others who also are receiving Awards of Special Merit. Eugene Linden is receiving an award for the book, The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations.

The Grantham website describes what it’s about:

Over the past decade, Linden writes, scientists have discovered that previous climate changes may have been abrupt and catastrophically severe, rather than incremental. Linden writes that climate change has been a "serial killer" throughout human history, disrupting agriculture, fostering the spread of disease, prompting migrations, devastating economies, undermining the legitimacy of rulers, and starting wars. In fact, climate change may have caused or aided the fall of many civilizations, including the Akkadians of the ancient Middle East; the Assyrians and Minoans of 700 B.C.; the Byzantine, Peruvian, and Mayan empires; and the Vikings of Greenland in the fourteenth century.
Modern humans have enjoyed the good fortune of a benign climate, prospering and multiplying during this moderate period. Like the awestruck observers of the 2004 tsunami, Linden warns that we may be similarly unprepared for dramatic climate change because of our unfamiliarity with its potential impacts. Presenting evidence that vanquishes any lingering doubt that the climate is changing, Linden poses a serious of questions, including the most pressing: Are we any better equipped than past civilizations to deal with dramatic climate change?

The last merit award goes to the documentary “Dimming the Sun” that was produced by Senior Executive Producer Paula S. Apsell, written/produced by David Sington & directed by Duncan Copp. It was a DOX Production for NOVA/WGBH and the BBC and the original PBS broadcast date was on April 18, 2006.

The documentary focused on:

Have scientists seriously underestimated just how fast the Earth's climate is heating up? "Dimming the Sun" investigates a disturbing discovery that the amount of sunlight reaching Earth has been steadily declining. What could be the impact of this surprising little known phenomenon on global climate change?
Scientists have long known that air pollution endangers our respiratory health, but they had not fully considered that this pollution might also be decreasing the amount of sunlight reaching Earth. Some scientists now believe that global dimming may disturb rainfall patterns and contribute to severe droughts and famines. But most important, as we clean up the pollution contributing to sun's dimming, we will no longer mask the heating force of global warming. This new realization means temperatures could rise even faster than current predictions. NOVA talks with leading climatologists James Hansen and Peter Cox, who discuss the impact of global dimming and the dire effects it could have on the future of climate change. ?

Besides talking about what we did in each of our projects, we’ll hear a keynote lecture on causes of recent climate change and the shape of things to come. The day will also give us an opportunity to talk to more people involved in environmental reporting as they cover climate change and other issues.

We’ll report later on this website and in our newspapers on what we heard at this seminar in Rhode Island.

1 comment:

William Bragg said...


Make sure you get out and eat. I'm heading back to RI next week as well. Visiting my family - they miss my boy.

But I'm not kidding about the food. You can find Italian food as good as what is served someplaces in RI, but not better. Also, I can't wait to have some 'stuffies' (Stuffed Quahaugs). And if you're very adventurous, or just want to see the look of surprise/shock on someone's face, tell them you want 'hot weiners'.

Enjoy the trip and well-deserved accolades.

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