Award Winners

2016

Large Newspaper

Gold

"Het is een prachtig kind. Waarom is hij overleden?" (It is a beautiful child. Why did he die?") - 23 Apr. 2016

NRC Handelsblad

 

In a heartbreaking story about the stillbirth of their son, Mikki, journalists Jop de Vrieze and Zvezdana Vukojevic searched for answers within the Dutch system of prenatal care that might have helped prevent their son’s death. They delved into scientific articles, medical guidelines, policy documents, parliamentary papers and internal documents, and spoke to more than 30 sources. Infant mortality has been a topic of considerable discussion in The Netherlands since a 2003 study found the nation’s infant mortality rate was among the highest in the European Union. Midwives...Read more

Small Newspaper

Gold

“Busted! Breast Cancer, Money and the Media” (11-part series) – 5 Nov. 2015 - 21 Jan. 2016

Point Reyes Light (California)

 

In his series for the Point Reyes Light, Peter Byrne took a close look at claims of a breast cancer epidemic among white women in upscale Marin County and found that widespread cancer screening, producing many false positives, is the likely cause of a feared “cancer cluster” in the county. He reported that many non-cancerous findings are erroneously entered in the state’s cancer registry as cancerous. “There is not more breast cancer in Marin than elsewhere, experts say; rather, it is detected more frequently—and often erroneously,” Byrne wrote. “Over the...Read more

Magazine

Gold

“Editing the Mushroom” - March 2016

Scientific American

The gene editing technique called CRISPR is much in the news, but the judges praised Hall’s piece for not only explaining the powerful new technique but also using a very specific example– preventing the decay of store-bought mushrooms – to show how the new science may be having its most profound and least publicized effect in agriculture. “By the fall of 2015, about 50 scientific papers had been published reporting uses of CRISPR in gene-edited plants, and there are preliminary signs that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one of the agencies that assess genetically modified...Read more

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

“A primer on the Paris climate conference” - 23 Nov. 2015

BBC Newsnight, BBC World

 

Setting the stage for what proved to be a landmark conference on climate change in Paris, Rebecca Morelle and Stuart Denman traveled to a high-altitude research laboratory in the Swiss Alps to talk with scientists who have been keeping an eye on rising levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the broadcast, Morelle reviewed the history of global negotiations to control human-generated atmospheric emissions, including the successful effort to reduce substances that damage Earth’s protective ozone layer. In interviews with the UN official in charge of...Read more

Television: In-Depth/Feature Reporting

Gold

“The Experiments: The Star Surgeon”

Swedish Public Television (SVT)

 

Surgeon Paolo Macchiarini gained international attention in 2011 when he announced he had performed the world’s first synthetic organ transplant by replacing a patient’s trachea, or windpipe, with a plastic tube. When doubts arose about the success of subsequent operations, Karolinska officials disregarded the results of an investigation by an outside expert and reaffirmed their faith in Macchiarini. In a gripping three-part documentary, reporter Bosse Lindquist explained how the surgeon did not fully inform his patients about the risks of the trachea implants and had...Read more

Audio

Gold

“In Greenland, a climate change mystery with clues written in water and stone” - 18 Jan. 2016

“Looking small for big answers in Greenland” - 19 Jan. 2016

“Turning ice into fire: How climate change could mean more volcanic eruptions in Iceland” - 27 Nov. 2015

Public Radio International’s “The World”

 

From a desolate volcanic landscape in the highlands of Iceland to the edge of the world’s second largest ice sheet in Greenland, reporter Ari Daniel and environment editor Peter Thomson of PRI’s “The World” took listeners to the frontiers of field research on current and potential effects of climate change. “Ari Daniel brought listeners along on an exciting and fascinating ride to explore melting glaciers in Greenland and Iceland,” said Rich Monastersky, features editor in the Washington office of the journal Nature. “The vivid pieces put us right there with...Read more

Online

Gold

“Law Ignored, Patients at Risk: Failure to Report - A STAT Investigation” - 13 Dec. 2015

“Failure to report: About the investigation” - 13 Dec. 2015

“STAT investigation sparked improved reporting of study results, NIH says” - 16 Feb. 2016

STAT

 

Charles Piller reported that researchers at leading medical institutions had routinely disregarded a law requiring public reporting of study results to the federal government’s ClinicalTrials.gov database, thereby depriving patients and doctors of information that would help them better compare the effectiveness and side effects of treatments for diseases such as advanced breast cancer. Piller found that four of the top 10 recipients of federal medical research funding from the National Institutes of Health were the worst offenders: Stanford University, the University of...Read more

Children's Science News

Gold

“What Really Causes Cavities?” - 25 Jan. 2016

“See Microbes with this DIY Microscope” - 4 Jan. 2016

Three Surprising Questions About Periods” - 10 Feb. 2016

Gross Science from NOVA

 

Anna Rothschild engaged her early adolescent viewers with a series of brightly written pieces about the microbial culprits behind cavities, a clever homemade microscope that can be used to view the denizens of pond scum, and a frank and informative discussion of menstrual periods. “Funny, compelling, intriguingly gross and hugely informative—the videos written, edited, animated and narrated by the multi-talented Anna Rothschild do a marvelous job of conveying science in a form that is kid-friendly and likely to stick in young brains,” said Claudia Wallis, managing editor of...Read more

2015

Large Newspaper

Gold

"Advocates aim to save Baltimore children from impact of violence" - 14 Dec. 2014

"Families struggle to care for victims of violence" - 18 Dec. 2014

"Relatives of Baltimore murder victims struggle with grief" - 21 Dec. 2014

The Baltimore Sun

 

Andrea K. McDaniels of The Baltimore Sun won for her three-part "Collateral Damage" series which told what researchers have been learning about the impact of traumatic stress on children's health and the development of the young brain. Even as shootings, stabbings, and murder trials grab the spotlight, McDaniels wrote, violence in Baltimore "is exacting another insidious, often invisible, toll — warping the health and development of the city's youngest residents."

For more than a year, McDaniels examined the unseen impact...Read more

Small Newspaper

Gold

"Battle of the Ash Borer" - 27 July 2014

Lansing State Journal

 

The emerald ash borer, an insect that has laid waste to more than 100 million ash trees from New Jersey to Colorado, has wiped out virtually every ash tree in southeast Michigan. In much of the rest of the state's Lower Peninsula, there are few trees left to save. In a detailed look at the local impact of the pest, Matthew Miller described efforts by researchers to identify the borer and slow the devastation, including the use of tiny stingless wasps that prey on the borer's eggs and larvae. They also are exploring ways to cross North American ash trees with resistant...Read more

Magazine

Gold

"The Quake Hunters" - 9 July 2015

Nature

"The Pluto Siblings" - 25 Feb. 2015

Nature

"Let the River Run" - 10 Jan. 2015

Science News

 

Alexandra Witze introduced her readers to the seismologists who work around the clock to pinpoint major earthquakes around the globe; to a brother and sister who have spent their lives studying Pluto; and to scientists and engineers involved in the removal of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington's Olympic Penninsula and the restoration of the environment behind the dams. The judges praised Witze's command of diverse topics, each story illuminated through on-the-scene reporting. Dan Vergano of BuzzFeed called her work "sterling reporting that opens windows on the people...Read more

Television: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Gold

"Is Alaska Safe for Sea Stars?" - 8 Oct. 2014

KCTS 9 (Seattle)

 

With a deadly wasting disease killing West Coast starfish by the millions, Katie Campbell's story took views to Alaska where researchers are trying to determine whether starfish in colder waters might escape the die-off. "This piece was about far more than starfish," said judge David Baron, former science editor for PRI's "The World." "By showing how biologists painstakingly collect data to understand the natural world, the story beautifully demonstrates what it means to be a scientist." The judges praised the Gold Award winner as an excellent example of strong, local...Read more

Television: In-Depth/Feature Reporting

Gold

"Climate Change by Numbers" - 2 Mar. 2015

BBC

 

The BBC team used clever analogies and appealing graphics to discuss three key numbers that help clarify important questions about climate change: 0.85 degrees Celsius — how much the Earth has warmed since the 1880s; 95% — how sure scientists are that human activity is the major cause of Earth's recent warming; and one trillion tons — the best estimate of the amount of carbon that can be burned before risking dangerous climate change. Three mathematicians discuss such topics as the moon landing, early 20th century cotton mills, and motor racing to help illuminate the...Read more

Radio

Gold

"What the Songbird Said" - 11 May 2015

BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service

 

Rami Tzabar and Angela Saini of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) won for radio reporting that explored how animal models of vocal communication may be useful in understanding how human language might have evolved. "Just like the birdsongs they report on, the BBC team produced a program that is both a delight to the ears and elegantly structured," said Seth Borenstein, a science reporter for the Associated Press, who helped judge the competition.

Vocal learning — the ability to learn and imitate sounds — is a trait humans share with only a few other...Read more

Online

Gold

"How a Lone Hacker Shredded the Myth of Crowdsourcing" - 9 Feb. 2015

Backchannel

 

Crowdsourcing, which exploits the collective intelligence of thousands of people to tackle big problems, has become popular in business, political, and academic circles. But Mark Harris described how a hacker and a friend infiltrated a DARPA-sponsored "Shredder Challenge" and created havoc. Participants in the challenge had to piece together 6,000 chads from documents that had been put through high-end shredding machines. Some of the teams used sophisticated computer algorithms to help match images of the chads that had been posted online. But the hackers managed...Read more

Children's Science News

Gold

"Where will lightning strike?" - 16 Sept. 2014

Science News for Students (online site)

 

Stephen Ornes told his youthful readers about the natural events that unfold in clouds to produce the visible bolts and roaring thunder that produce one of nature's most dazzling displays — and also one of its most dangerous. Starting with a harrowing story about hikers caught in a thunderstorm atop a mountain in California's Sequoia National Park, Ornes describes what scientists have learned about the behavior of lightning and what they are still struggling to understand. That includes exactly how a bolt is triggered and how to predict where it might connect with the ground...Read more