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Bud Ward
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Four Finalists Chosen for $75,000
2009 Grantham Prize for Environmental Journalism

NARRAGANSETT, R.I., June 22, 2009 - Four finalists have been chosen for the fourth annual Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment.

The University of Rhode Island's Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment created The Grantham Prize in 2005. The $75,000 prize honors the work of one journalist or team of journalists for exemplary reporting on the environment. Three runners-up each receive $5,000 Awards of Special Merit. The annual prize is open to journalists, writers and producers in the U.S. and Canada and recognizes nonfiction work published or broadcast in the previous calendar year.

The finalists for the 2009 Grantham Prize are:

  • Tad Fettig, Karena Albers, and Veronique Bernard from kontentreal for their 6-part television series, "e2: Transport." The series, featured on PBS affiliates throughout the U.S., featured solutions-oriented approaches to tackling one of the modern world's biggest challenges: How to move people around without further damaging the Earth. Jurors found the presentation "remarkable," and a "prime example of the transformative power of television."
  • Andrew Nikiforuk for his book, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, published by Greystone Books. Nikiforuk tells the story of tar sands oil development in Alberta, Canada, which may be the largest single fossil fuel project on the planet, covering an area the size of Florida. Nikiforuk argues that the project is not only bad for Canada but worse, constitutes a double-barreled threat to the planet as a whole. The jurors noted that Nikiforuk is "a careful and diligent researcher and writer," whose book "makes excellent reading. It is also a valuable and timely reminder of the mounting environmental costs of our addiction to oil."
  • Blake Morrison and Brad Heath of USA Today for their ambitious series, The Smokestack Effect, that took "evidence-based journalism to a new level," according to the Grantham Prize jurors. Morrison and Heath teamed with academic researchers to pool government data on industrial polluters with the locations of 127,800 schools, ultimately presenting a surprising picture of air quality near many of the nation's schools. The series prompted EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to initiate a new program that will determine whether industrial pollution impacts air quality outside of the nation's schools.
  • Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for their series, "Chemical Fallout." After months of consulting with scientists and studying government databases and peer-reviewed research Rust and Kissinger determined that the EPA allows companies to keep information about hazardous chemicals secret, despite rules mandating disclosure. They also found evidence that an EPA program designed to warn the public about toxic chemicals favors the chemical industry in reporting possible threats. Grantham Prize jurors noted that the authors' "straightforward, no-hype writing style and good use of tables and graphics made the series a pleasure to read. 'Chemical Fallout' exemplifies the good journalists can do given the time and resources."

The winner of the 2009 Grantham Prize will be announced on July 6. The winner and Award of Special Merit recipients will be formally recognized at an October 5, 2009, prize ceremony and seminar to be held at the Freedom Forum's Newseum in Washington, D.C.

An independent panel of five jurors evaluated the entries and selected the finalists. The jurors were: Chair Philip Meyer, professor emeritus and former Knight Chair in Journalism at the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication; David Boardman, executive editor of The Seattle Times; Peter Desbarats, veteran print and television journalist and former dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario; Diane Hawkins-Cox, former senior producer for the Science & Technology Unit at CNN-Atlanta; and Robert B. Semple, Jr., associate editor of the editorial page for The New York Times.

The Grantham Prize is funded by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham through The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. The foundation supports climate change research and natural resource conservation programs both in the United States and internationally. Jeremy Grantham is a Boston-based investment strategist and Hannelore Grantham is the Director of The Grantham Foundation.

The Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting was established at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography in 1997 with funding from three media foundations - the Belo Corporation, the Providence Journal Charitable Foundation and the Philip L. Graham Fund - and the Telaka Foundation. It is named after the late Michael P. Metcalf, a visionary in journalism and publisher of The Providence Journal Bulletin from 1979 to 1987. The Metcalf Institute provides science training for reporters and editors to help improve the accuracy and clarity of marine and environmental reporting and offers journalism fellowships in support of diversity and reporting on science and the environment.

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June 22, 2009