Esteemed Judges and Screeners, 2019 SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment


Denis Cuff, Bay Area News Group (retired)

Denis Cuff retired from the Bay Area News Group in 2018 after covering environmental and water issues in the San Francisco Bay region for most of his 42 years in daily journalism. Newspapers in the BANG group include the East Bay Times and San Jose Mercury News.


Peter Dykstra, Weekend Editor, EHN/Daily Climate

None on our [EHN] staff have a deeper history in journalism than Peter Dykstra. During a 17-year career at CNN, Dykstra was executive producer for science, environment, weather and technology coverage. He shared an Emmy award for CNN's coverage of the 1993 Mississippi River floods; a Dupont-Columbia Award for the network's reporting on the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; and a Peabody Award for the 2005 coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to CNN, Dykstra was national media director for Greenpeace, setting up the organization's U.S. media operations. He can be heard weekly on Public Radio International's Living on Earth. Dykstra has a Bachelor of Science degree in communication from Boston University and lives in Atlanta.


Beth Gardiner, Freelance Journalist and Author of "Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution"

Beth Gardiner is an American journalist based in London. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Time, The International Herald Tribune and The Wall Street Journal. These days, she focuses mainly on stories about environment, health and sustainability, but she’s written about everything from politics, education and feminism to food and the arts. Beth spent 10 years as a reporter for the Associated Press, based first in New York and then in London. The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Society of Environmental Journalists both awarded grants to support Beth’s work on "Choked," which is her first book. Read more.


Thomas Hayden, Director, Environmental Communication Program, Stanford University

Thomas Hayden is Director of the Master of Arts in Earth Systems, Environmental Communication Program at Stanford University. He teaches science and environmental communication and journalism in Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences and Graduate Program in Journalism. He came to Stanford in 2008, following a career of reporting and writing about science and environmental issues for national and international publications. Hayden's journalism career began at Newsweek magazine in New York, where he was an American Association for the Advancement of Science Mass Media fellow in 1997. In 2000, he moved to US News & World Report in Washington, DC, where he covered science, the environment, medicine, culture and breaking news as a senior writer. Since 2005, Hayden has been a freelance journalist. His cover stories have appeared in publications including Wired, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Washington Post Book World and many others. He has reported from South America, Europe and Asia; and North America from New Orleans to the Canadian Arctic. Hayden is coauthor of two books. Read more.


Cheryl Katz, Independent Science and Environmental Journalist

Cheryl Katz is a veteran science and environmental writer focusing on energy, climate change, wildlife, natural resources and all things water. She reports frequently from Iceland and the Arctic, on the frontlines of climate change. A former staff writer for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, the Miami Herald and the Orange County Register, Katz is now a free-lancer. Her article on the cultural impacts of climate change in Iceland was honored as an Outstanding Feature by SEJ in 2017. Her work has also received awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, SciShortform and Writers Digest. In 2018, Katz was selected by the National Science Foundation as a media visitor to Greenland, where she reported on climate change research. She has also received fellowships from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources, among others.


Tom Palmer, Environmental Reporter, The (Lakeland, Fla) Ledger (retired)

Tom Palmer is a retired environmental reporter and a blogger. He worked at The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla. from 1980 to 2016.


Katina Paron, Director, Institute for Environmental Journalism, InsideClimate News

Katina Paron is the director of InsideClimate News' Institute for Environmental Journalism and the lead instructor for the Maine session. She is a journalism educator and editor, who has helped thousands of teens earn bylines in professional publications. From "Since Parkland" to workshops on editing and newswriting, her work elevates the voices and experiences of young people and provides journalism training and mentorship to teens. She is the author of "A NewsHound's Guide to Student Journalism" and runs the Instagram channel @DearTeenJournalist. Her articles on scholastic journalism have appeared in the New York Times and WNYC.


Craig Pittman, Environment, Growth and Development Reporter, Tampa Bay Times

Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. Born in Pensacola, he graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for Florida's largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. He has won the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida four times, and twice shared SEJ's Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting. He is the co-author or author of four books: "Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss," "Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species," "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid" and "Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country," which became a New York Times bestseller. His fifth book, "Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther," is scheduled to hit stores in January 2020.


Larry Pynn, Environment Reporter, The Vancouver Sun (retired)

Larry Pynn retired last year after 41 years with The Vancouver Sun daily newspaper in British Columbia, most of that as environment reporter. He is also the author of two non-fiction books, "The Forgotten Trail" and "Last Stands," and is a member of The Explorers Club.


Sinduja Rangarajan, Data Reporter, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting

Sinduja Rangarajan is a data reporter at Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. She wrangles and analyzes datasets to tell stories. Her work on using data sonification methods to illustrate the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley was recognized with a National Edward R. Murrow award. She also finds innovative ways to report on issues by collaborating with academics. She is the organizer of the "Mind to Mind" conference that brings together researchers and journalists. She joined Reveal as a Google News Lab Fellow in 2015. She has a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Mumbai and a master's from the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.


JoAnn Valenti, Emerita Professor

JoAnn Myer Valenti, science and environment communication/journalism specialist, received a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources, and both a B.S.J. and M.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Florida. She was awarded Emerita Professor status in 2003.


Tim Wheeler, Associate Editor and Senior Writer, (Chesapeake) Bay Journal

Tim Wheeler has covered the Chesapeake Bay and other environmental issues for most of his career, including nearly 32 years with the Baltimore Sun and Evening Sun. He's a former president of the Society of Environmental Journalists and has won numerous awards, including the 2010 Excellence in Journalism Award from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation. A native of West Virginia, he grew up eating oysters and followed his taste buds to the Bay. He began his career at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, then worked for a regional news service in Washington, D.C. After that, he moved still closer to the Bay, reporting for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star, and finally to Maryland. He earned a B.A from the University of Virginia and a master's in journalism from Columbia University.


Carolyn Whetzel, Independent Journalist, and Bloomberg BNA Retiree

Carolyn Whetzel was a correspondent with Bloomberg BNA for 25 years, until her retirement in 2018. She is a past president and long-time board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.


Back to Winners: SEJ 18th Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment