2019 Small Newspaper - Silver

Three pieces by Amy Joi O’Donoghue, published on the same day, provided a comprehensive look at the history, future and current impact on Utah residents of the nearby Idaho National Laboratory. O’Donoghue investigated the lab’s current research, describing important projects and their significance for the local area. In a second piece, she focused on the future of the lab’s partnership with NuScale’s Carbon Free Power Project. The project, which could provide clean nuclear energy to Utah residents by 2026, has stirred up local controversy among legislators and energy companies. The last of the pieces explored the lab’s “legacy of contamination” and touched on the community’s ongoing struggle with the Environmental Protection Agency for stricter enforcement of pollution regulations. Maggie Koerth, a senior science writer for FiveThirtyEight, called O’Donoghue’s entry “a great series delving into a world that local readers will find simultaneously familiar and mysterious.” She said it represented “crucial transparency journalism and a great example of how science reporting can help people understand both the benefits and risks” of the scientific enterprise. “In a remote area of Idaho, all sorts of intriguing and vital technologies are playing out,” O’Donoghue said. “Utah is in the midst of this, including the possible development of next generation nuclear power, so I wanted to learn more. It was absolutely the most fascinating assignment in my career.”