Paula Apsell, Madeleine Nash, and Kevin Krajick win AGU journalism awards

03/22/04

WASHINGTON - Paula S. Apsell, Executive Producer of the WGBH/PBS program NOVA; J. Madeleine Nash of Time, and freelance writer Kevin Krajick have won the American Geophysical Union's 2004 science journalism awards.

Apsell won the Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism, in recognition of the consistently high standard of science information reported on NOVA, with which she has been associated since 1975. Over six million Americans watch NOVA weekly and are enriched by its compelling stories of science and scientists. Viewers have learned about volcanoes, glaciers, climate, the threats to Venice, space exploration, and dozens of other topics in the Earth and space sciences alone.

Information about NOVA is available at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/

Nash won the David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism - News for her article, "Fireproofing the Forests," which appeared in Time's August 18,2003, issue. During a summer of massive forest fires in western United States and Canada, Nash looked into controversial techniques proposed for making forests less susceptible to massive conflagrations, especially the thinning of smaller trees in a forest's understory. Judges said Nash, working under deadline pressure, "melded science with current events and public policy, used a number of sources to present the science, and constructively interwove the information from those sources.... "

Nash's winning article may be read at http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/prrl/fire_proofing_forests.pdf

Kevin Krajick becomes the first person to win the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism - Features twice. (He had won in 1998.) This year's award is for "Defusing Africa's Killer Lakes," which appeared in Smithsonian magazine in September 2003. He discusses efforts undertaken by an international team of scientists to prevent recurrence of a natural disaster that occurred in Cameroon in 1986, when a massive eruption of carbon dioxide from the depths of Lake Nyos killed some 1,800 villagers around its shores. The lake is remote and difficult to reach, both for scientists investigating the phenomenon and reporters covering the story. Krajick describes a relatively low tech approach to mitigating future carbon dioxide buildup, using venting pipes sunk deep into the lake. Judges said his article is a "superb and engaging piece of scientific writing; reads like a great mystery--one which allowed me (en route) to figure out the answer and also come up with my variant of the solution" and an "engaging piece that shows the societal effect of a rather obscure geophysical phenomenon."

Krajick's winning article (text only) may be read at http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues03/sep03/pdf/killer_lakes.pdf

The three AGU journalism awards will be presented on May 19, during Honors Evening at the AGU-CGU-SEG-EEGS Joint Assembly in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.. The Cowen Award is named for Robert Cowen, retired science editor of the Christian Science Monitor, and consists of a display piece. It is presented at intervals of two or more years. The annual Sullivan and Perlman Awards are named for Walter Sullivan, late science editor of The New York Times, and David Perlman, science editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, respectively. These awards consist of a plaque and a $2,000 stipend.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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