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Bud Ward
(703) 307-0150


Metcalf Institute Awards $75,000 Grantham Prize
to The New York Times' "Choking on Growth" Series

NARRAGANSETT, R.I., June 23, 2008 - David Barboza, Keith Bradsher, Howard French, Joseph Kahn, Chang W. Lee, Jimmy Wang, and Jim Yardley of The New York Times are the 2008 winners of the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment. Barboza, Bradsher, French, Kahn, Lee, Wang, and Yardley will receive the $75,000 prize for "Choking on Growth," their 10-part series about the environmental degradation that has accompanied China's unprecedented development.

Grantham Prize Jurors noted, "The Times' series is environmental journalism of the highest order, shaped for the 21st century. The stories, photographs and graphics on the printed page are outstanding. 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."

The Times' 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. 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:

  • Alison Richards and David Malakoff, series editors of the National Public Radio News series, "Climate Connections: How people change climate, how climate changes people." This series pooled the resources of NPR News programs to take listeners on a global journey to understand the impacts of climate change and how humans are responding. Jurors noted that the series provided a vital public service through its explanations of climate science, policy, and the wide-ranging nature of the coverage.
  • Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach News-Journal for her richly detailed 7-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. Jurors noted that this series represented a significant commitment for a daily newspaper of moderate size, especially in these difficult times for print journalism.
  • 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 series was on the Toronto Star's "best-read" stories list for 2007, extraordinary for a serious, issues-based series like this one.

The Grantham Prize and the three Awards of Special Merit will be presented at a September 8, 2008, ceremony and seminar to be held at the recently relocated Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, based at the University of Rhode Island, and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment created the Grantham Prize in 2005. The prize honors the work of one journalist or team of journalists for exemplary reporting on the environment. 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 Grantham Prize is funded by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham through The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. The foundation supports natural resource conservation programs in the United States and internationally.

Metcalf Institute 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. Named for the late Michael P. Metcalf, a visionary in journalism and publisher of The Providence Journal Bulletin, the Metcalf Institute provides science training for journalists to improve the accuracy and clarity of reporting on the environment.


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June 26, 2008