Coverage of “the world’s quest for water” is timely, intimate, and dramatic.
By Keith Schneider
Circle of Blue
Circle of Blue’s trendsetting reporting on Western water issues in the United States and its scintillating photography on the contest for fresh water in India, California, and the Great Plains were honored this week with two awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), the premier professional trade organization representing 1,400 journalists and academics in 27 countries.
Brett Walton, Circle of Blue’s Seattle-based correspondent, won third place for “outstanding beat reporting” in a small market for five articles encompassing drug disposal in California, water scarcity in the Colorado River Basin, water pricing in 30 American cities, drought in Texas, and disinvestment in water infrastructure.
J. Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue’s Traverse City-based co-founder and managing director, joined Choke Point: Index photographers Matt Black and Brian Lehmann in winning second place honors in environmental photojournalism for five compelling photographs of the competition between water, food, and energy on two continents.
SEJ said that it considered 313 entries for the 2013-2014 awards and chose 21 winners in seven categories. Circle of Blue is the only news organization to win two awards in this year’s contest.
It is the second time in two years that Circle of Blue’s reporting and photography on the global contest for fresh water has been recognized for its excellence. In 2012, the Rockefeller Foundation honored Circle of Blue with its $US100,000 Centennial Innovation Award.
“It is with humility and gratitude that we thank our colleagues and peers at the Society of Environmental Journalists for these honors,” Ganter said. “The story we are telling about the shrinking global supply of clean fresh water is critical to the security of every nation, every economy, every community. It is an honor to work with our exceptional Circle of Blue team. With these awards, it’s very gratifying to know such an esteemed group of environmental journalists thinks we are on the right track.”
Circle of Blue joined a prominent list of mainstream and online news organizations that also won SEJ awards this year. They include: The Baltimore Sun, Climate Wire, High Country News, the Miami Herald, National Geographic, Natural History, The New York Times, Scientific American, and The Seattle Times.
The contest judges made these comments about Brett Walton’s work:
“Brett Walton’s stories on the timely topic of drought brought out the calculations and competing interests for water in three major Western states, and he spun the issue out to the international level. The judges liked his easy, digestible writing style.”
And the judges said this about Circle of Blue’s photographers:
“From India to the Midwest to California, J. Carl Ganter, Matt Black, and Brian Lehmann capture in both intimate portraiture and dramatic aerials the changes to lives and landscape brought and wrought by the world’s quest for water.”
Brett Walton’s Award-Winning Stories
Circle of Blue’s Award-Winning Photography
View the complete list of winners at Society of Environmental Journalists.
Circle of Blue’s senior editor and chief correspondent based in Traverse City, Michigan. He has reported on the contest for energy, food, and water in the era of climate change from six continents. Contact