The list of winners for the 21st Annual Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) Awards for Reporting on the Environment included two GPSW alumni: Lisa Song, ’09, and Phil McKenna, ’06. The SEJ competition is the world’s largest contest for environmental journalism. This year’s award winners were selected out of 485 entries across ten categories.
As part of a team from ProPublica, The Texas Tribune, and Mountain State Spotlight, Lisa Song won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting in the large publications division. Their project, “Sacrifice Zones: Mapping Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution,” is an investigative piece that showcases how overlooked communities located near toxic manufacturing plants bear disproportionate health costs. Since the story was first published last November, more than 76 local news outlets have reported on findings in their area. The EPA has also pledged to launch its own air pollution analysis and to create new cumulative risk guidelines. In addition to winning the Kevin Carmody Award, the “Sacrifice Zones” team has also won a National Institute for Health Care Management Digital Media Award for the project and been named finalists for the 2022 National Magazine Awards, the 2022 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, and the Scripps Howard Awards.
This is actually Lisa’s third Kevin Carmody win. She was also part of the investigative teams that won the 2015 and 2016 awards. But Lisa wasn’t the only GPSW alum to land on this year’s SEJ awards list. Phil McKenna also scooped up an honorable mention in the Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Publications category for “Holding a Powerful Multinational Chemical Company to Account,” an investigative series coauthored by James Bruggers and published on Inside Climate News that documented how one chemical plant in Louisville, Kentucky, emits super pollutants. Stories from the series are available in chronological order here, here, here, here, and here.
You can read all of the winning entries here. Congratulations, Lisa and Phil.