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 2020 (which includes videos spotlighting their work), as well as from 2019.

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.

January 13, 2021

  • A Philadelphia Inquirer investigation into environmental harm suffered by the city’s children, minorities and poor dived into the “decaying infrastructure” of the city schools. The result? Findings of dangerous levels of lead, mold and asbestos, followed by an influx of funding to fix the problems and awards from journalism colleagues. For Inside Story, a Q&A with a reporter for the "Toxic City: Sick Schools" exposé.

November 25, 2020

  • When the New York Times Magazine published “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” as its full issue in August 2018, the reaction to Nathaniel Rich’s piece was immediate and polemic. Today, as some analysts speak of Joe Biden’s efforts to position himself as “the climate President,” SEJournal asks Rich to explain his contribution to the public conversation on policy, action and climate.

October 21, 2020

  • A battery of polluting industry spewing toxic pollution and a small town of residents south of Baton Rouge unbowed by their circumstance make for the ingredients of a powerful team investigative project, newly named to the top prize in the Society of Environmental Journalists’ 2020 reporting awards. Inside Story offers a look behind “Polluter’s Paradise” in a Q&A with reporter Tristan Baurick.

September 9, 2020

  • It took teams of journalists to produce an award-winning series of reports digging into environment and climate health effects of massive oil and natural gas production in the Southwestern United States. Our latest Inside Story talks with Jamie Smith Hopkins of the Center for Public Integrity about the benefits of reporting a big story jointly and the project’s sometimes surprising findings.

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