Inside Story

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Inside Story is a regular question-and-answer feature of SEJournal Online in which we hear from award-winning journalists about the behind-the-scenes practices, ideas and breakthroughs that led to their best work, and their advice to other journalists about how to excel. For questions and comments, or to suggest future Inside Story features, email SEJournal Online Inside Story Q&A co-editors Emilia Askari or Parimal Rohit at sejournaleditor@sej.org.

Be sure to check out past winners of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment. Here's the list of winners from 20212020 and 2019.

November 24, 2021

  • It was a seemingly mundane legal notice about a surface water discharge permit. But when Wyoming journalist Angus Thuermer Jr. took a closer look, he discovered that it would mean massive discharges of pollutants into local waters. Inside Story explains how Thuermer revealed the truth about the plans, prompting local protests and, ultimately, a withdrawal of the permit.

October 27, 2021

  • Beat reporters Hal Bernton and Mark Kaufman both found the dramatic changes wrought by climate change to be at the center of their coverage — as their work was elevated to prize-winning heights. Bernton, covering climate impacts in northwestern Alaska at a large newspaper, and Kaufman, covering CO2 globally for a digital platform, talk about the lessons of their recent beat coverage with SEJournal’s Inside Story.

September 29, 2021

  • Two outstanding features — one on air pollution from a local coke plant in Pennsylvania, another on deaths from a shellfish toxin in Alaska, and both focused on public health, neglected communities and environmental justice — are the subject of the new Inside Story Q&A. Society of Environmental Journalists’ award-winners Nancy Averett and Zoya Teirstein share their reporting insights and advice.

August 25, 2021

  • Prize-winning journalist Tony Bartelme and his local news team enter one of the East Coast’s largest, but lesser known estuaries, and come out with an account that awards judges called “gorgeously executed in the best tradition of storytelling about the environment.” Bartelme shares lessons of covering the challenges of an amorphous ecosystem, and touches on his long record of award-winning reporting, in the latest Inside Story.

June 30, 2021

  • Environmental journalists around the world sometimes pay for their work with their freedom, safety or even their lives. The Forbidden Stories network continues the reporting of some of those journalists, and a team there recently produced an award-winning collaboration to investigate troubles at mining giants in Central America, South Asia and East Africa. “The Green Blood Project” in this month’s Inside Story.

June 2, 2021

  • Even with a book in the works and a pledge to not take on new projects, freelance environmental journalist Jeremy Hance couldn’t say no to a series on global insect decline. Despite missing data and numerous other challenges, the resulting project was an award-winning example of explanatory reporting. Insights and lessons learned, in the new Inside Story.

May 5, 2021

  • Pittsburgh is known for its history of steel production … and of air pollution. In the new Inside Story, reporter Kristina Marusic talks about capturing the health impacts of air emissions in western Pennsylvania, and shares insights on how dogged environmental justice reporting can make the links between pollution cuts and health impacts. Plus, tips on managing a long reporting project, creating infographics and using video.

April 7, 2021

  • An investigation into lead poisoning treatment policies prompted some very unexpected conclusions for one long-time investigative journalist, whose deeply reported and surprising projects won plaudits from judges for the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual awards. Find out how Charles Schmidt turned an aside from a source into a penetrating look at a critical public health and environmental challenge.

March 10, 2021

  • Perpetual water scarcity issues in the Colorado River basin provide a bounty of stories for public radio journalist Luke Runyon, who shares insights into his beat coverage practices, in the latest Inside Story Q&A. The greatest challenges, surprises and lessons in reporting these critical stories, lauded in SEJ’s awards program, through the medium of sound.

February 10, 2021

  • Reporter Kyle Bagenstose has impressed Society of Environmental Journalists’ awards judges three times in the last four years with his investigative and small-market beat reporting on local and regional issues in Pennsylvania. In our latest Inside Story Q&A, Bagenstose discusses his award-winning work as a beat reporter and his first-place investigative prize for a series on the cleanup of toxic firefighting chemicals from streams and aquifers around military bases.

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