By Marte Skaara
The Society of Environmental Journalists has recognized an alumnus of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism for excellence in reporting.
Brian Bienkowski, a 2012 Knight Center graduate and former reporter for the center’s Great Lakes Echo environmental news service, received second place in the beat reporting category.
Now a staff writer at Environmental Health News, Bienkowski was recognized Wednesday for five stories under the heading of Environmental Health in the Great Lakes Region. In March his work had been recognized by the national John B. Oakes Award for environmental writing.
When he picked up his award Bienkowski talked about how our MSU professor David Poulson taught him how the area that journalists cover does not have to be a political one, but can be a watershed.
This is what the judges said about the entry: “Brian Bienkowski’s work is a study in environmental-justice reporting. Whether it is a Michigan Indian tribe fighting a new copper mine for fear that sulfuric acid will contaminate sacred waters, or tribes whose culture has been contaminated by industry, or low-income, minority communities of East Chicago where blood samples show three times the normal level of PCBs, he makes the reader understand both the scientific and human dimensions of pollution. And when it comes to more purely scientific concerns, like the role of Great Lake Trout as barometers for the wider pollution of lake ecosystems, he shows deftness and grace in explaining how the tissues of these fish can be read as a history text of the decades of pollution that have soiled these waters.”
Knight Center student Marte Skaara is attending this week’s Society of Environmental Journalists’ national conference in Chattanooga, Tenn.