A mini-documentary about the die-off facing the West Coast’s sea stars has won KCTS producer/photographer Katie Campbell one of the country’s most prestigious science journalism awards.
The TV tale – titled “Is Alaska Safe for Sea Stars?” – focuses on scientists who are studying why starfish off the coast of Alaska were able to dodge the outbreak until now. It aired last year in October as part of KCTS’ “IN Close” documentary series, and now it’s won the top prize in the 2015 Kavli Science Journalism Awards’ spot news/feature reporting category for television.
“This piece was about far more than starfish,” David Baron, a former science editor for PRI’s “The World” who served as one of the competition’s judges, said in today’s announcement of the winners. “By showing how biologists painstakingly collect data to understand the natural world, the story beautifully demostrates what it means to be a scientist.”
Campbell said she was “ecstatic” to be included among the winners, and said the award also recognizes “the important work being done by researchers on the front lines of the massive sea star wasting epidemic.”
The Science Journalism Awards are funded by the Kavli Foundation, administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and judged by independent panels of science journalists. (In 2002, one of the awards went to yours truly.) As a Gold Award winner, Campbell will receive $5,000 at the AAAS’ annual meeting in Washington, D.C., next February. For the first time, the awards program is also giving out Silver Awards worth $3,500, and honoring international as well as U.S.-based journalists.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Large newspaper (Circulation +150,000)
- Gold Award: Andrea K. McDaniels, The Baltimore Sun, for “Collateral Damage” series on the hidden toll of living in violent neighborhoods.
- Slilver Award: Nathaniel Herzberg, Le Monde, for stories about the decline of the stethoscope, the study of European eels, and the diminished allure of mice as lab animals.
Small newspaper (Circulation < 150,000)
- Gold Award: Matthew Miller, Lansing State Journal, for “Battle of the Ash Borer.”
- Silver Award: Helga Rietz, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, for a story on the physiology of the singing voice (translation).
- Gold Award: Alexandra Witze, Nature and Science News, for stories about earthquake hunters, a brother-and-sister duo studying Pluto, and the effort to remove dams and restore habitat on the Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River.
- Silver Award: Amanda Gefter, Nautilus, for a profile of pioneering neuroscientist Walter Pitts and his collaboration with Warren McCulloch.
Spot news / feature reporting (20 minutes or less)
- Gold Award: Katie Campbell, KCTS9, for “Is Alaska Safe for Sea Stars.”
- Silver Award: Miles O’Brien, PBS NewsHour, for video segments on robotic arms and touch-sensitive prosthetics.
In-depth reporting (more than 20 minutes)
- Gold Award: Jonathan Renouf and Alex Freeman, BBC, for “Climate Change by Numbers” (transcript).
- Silver Award: Lone Frank and Pernille Rose Grønkjær, Danish Broadcasting Corporation, for “Genetic Me” (transcript).
- Gold Award: Rami Tzabar and Angela Saini, BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service, for “What the Songbird Said.”
- Silver Award: Dan Kraker and Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio, for stories about climate change in Minnesota, its expected effect on the state’s forests, and Minnesota’s coolest spots.
- Gold Award: Mark Harris, Backchannel, for “How a Lone Hacker Shredded the Myth of Crowdsourcing.”
- Silver Award: Kevin Sack, Sheri Fink, Pam Belluck and Adam Nossiter with Daniel Berehulak, Dan Edge (for Frontline) and The New York Times graphics team, The New York Times, for “How Ebola Roared Back.”
CHILDREN’S SCIENCE NEWS