The Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT has named Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Timber Wars” podcast as 2021 winner of the distinguished Victor Ok. McElheny Award for local and regional science journalism. The seven-part sequence tells the story of how a gaggle of activists and scientists turned a combat over logging and animal safety into one of many greatest environmental conflicts of the twentieth century — a battle that also resonates in tradition wars in the present day. The podcast is the primary work of audio journalism to win the McElheny Award within the competitors’s three-year historical past.

Judges praised “Timber Wars” for its rigorous reporting, clever storytelling, and deft dealing with of intricate science. “It ticks all the boxes: superb craftsmanship and storytelling; delightful science that is explained without pedantry; and real impact,” stated the jury. “They really dug into the history and were able to connect it to the current day.” The podcast additionally resonated with policymakers. Oregon State Representative Dacia Grayber known as it “the best history and take on this I’ve ever heard.”

“Timber Wars” was conceived and govt produced by Ed Jahn, of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Science and Environment staff. Aaron Scott, a producer and reporter for “Oregon Field Guide,” was the podcast’s reporter, author, host, and lead producer. David Steves, Peter Frick-Wright, Robbie Carver, and Laura Gibson contributed to enhancing, manufacturing, sound design, and music composition.

The successful entry topped a big and extremely aggressive area of submissions from media retailers throughout the nation. Also making the quick checklist of finalists have been: The Boston Globe’s “The Virus’s Tale,” a day-by-day account of the dealing with of town’s first Covid-19 circumstances; an investigation by The Detroit Free Press and Type Investigations into Detroit housing demolitions and their potential function in youngster lead poisoning; a characteristic by Boston-based WBUR on the hunt to return loons to their native Massachusetts habitats; and a sequence from The Arizona Republic that chronicles how Indigenous Hopi are grappling with local weather change and vanishing water sources.

“It was really a stellar year for local science reporting,” says Knight Science Journalism Program director Deborah Blum. “It was heartening to see so many insightful and beautifully told stories across such a range of environmental issues. These works are a reminder of just how integral science is to our everyday lives, and how crucial it is that local journalists receive support to tell these stories.”

Named after the Knight Science Journalism Program’s founding director, the Victor Ok. McElheny Award was established to honor excellent protection of science, public-health, expertise, and environmental points on the local and regional degree. Members of the successful “Timber Wars” staff will obtain the award’s $5,000 prize. Due to the pandemic, the Knight Science Journalism Program is not going to maintain an in-person award ceremony this yr.

The Knight Science Journalism Program extends a particular because of the award’s jury: Rachel Ehrenberg, Knowable Magazine; Sujata Gupta, Science News; Eric Hand, Science; Emily Laber-Warren, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY; Dave Spratt, Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources, and screeners. The McElheny Award is made attainable by beneficiant assist from Victor Ok. McElheny, Ruth McElheny, and the Rita Allen Foundation.

The 2021 McElheny Award honorees:


  • Timber Wars” (Episodes 1 and a couple of), Oregon Public Broadcasting. (Ed Jahn, Aaron Scott, David Steves, Peter Frick-Wright, Robbie Carver, and Laura Gibson)


The Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, based greater than 30 years in the past, seeks to nurture and improve the flexibility of journalists from around the globe to precisely doc and illuminate the usually advanced intersection of science, expertise, and human tradition. It does so by means of an acclaimed fellowship program — which hosts 10 or extra journalists each tutorial yr — and likewise by means of
science-focused seminars, skills-focused grasp lessons, workshops, and publications. Since it started, this system has hosted greater than 300 fellows, who proceed to cowl science throughout a spread of platforms within the United States, together with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Time, Scientific American, Science, the Associated Press, and broadcast retailers ranging from ABC News to NCS, in addition to in quite a few different international locations.


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