The Knight-Risser Prize
for Western Environmental Journalism
dead trees

Foundation Pledges Challenge Match to Endow Stanford’s Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has pledged $220,000 in a challenge match to endow the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism at Stanford University. The prize is co-sponsored by the Bill Lane Center for the American West and the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford.

The Knight-Risser Prize recognizes the best environmental reporting on the North American West — from Canada through the United States to Mexico. An annual Knight-Risser Prize Symposium at Stanford brings journalists, researchers, scholars, and policy-makers together with public audiences to explore new ways to ensure that sophisticated environmental reporting thrives in the West

The two-year grant includes $200,000 in challenge funds. The Bill Lane Center for the American West and the Knight Journalism Fellowship program must raise $100,000 to earn the full match from the foundation, and are well on their way with more than $53,000 raised already. The endowment will support the annual $5,000 prize, as well as an annual symposium at Stanford and a web site. The symposium and web site are designed to foster and support collaborations between journalists, researchers, policymakers, and advocates to share experiences, information and new tools for informing and engaging communities around important environmental issues in the American West.

“These are tough times for journalism and for environmental journalism in particular,” said Jon Christensen, executive director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, and a former environmental journalist and science writer. “With the Knight Foundation’s support, we will be able to bring together the best new ideas in journalism, the university research community, and the world of technology to help ensure that environmental journalism not only survives but continues to thrive through the challenges ahead.”

The prize is named for newspaper publishers John S. and James L. Knight and the foundation they created to advance journalism excellence and freedom of expression and for James V. Risser, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and former director of the Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford. The Knight Journalism Fellowships and the Bill Lane Center for the American West created the Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism in 2005. It is being renamed on this occasion.

“Jim Risser has been an inspiration to generations of environmental journalists through his prize-winning work at the Des Moines Register and as director of the Knight Journalism Fellowships,” said Jim Bettinger, director of the Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford. “It is fitting to honor his pioneering work as a journalist together with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s deep commitment to advancing journalism that informs and engages communities in new ways in these changing times.”

The Knight Foundation has been advancing journalism excellence and freedom of expression since 1950 with more than $400 million in grants worldwide, permanent programs at more than 25 top universities, including major fellowship programs at Stanford, Michigan and Harvard and 22 Knight Chairs with endowments totaling more than $50 million, and through the Carnegie-Knight Initiative for the Future of Journalism Education. More than 100,000 journalists worldwide have been trained through a variety of its specialized programs, from the Knight International Press Fellowships to NewsUniversity.org. The foundation has plowed more than $50 million in challenge grants into journalism nonprofits and launched journalism organizations throughout Latin America through the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

The Knight Fellowships sponsors 12 U.S. and eight international journalists each year who use the vast resources of the university and Silicon Valley to explore ways to improve and revitalize themselves as well as journalism.

The Bill Lane Center for the American West is dedicated to advancing scholarly and public understanding of the past, present, and future of western North America through research, teaching, and reporting about western land and life in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

 

person taking pictures
James V. Risser

“These are tough times for journalism and for environmental journalism in particular. With the Knight Foundation’s support, we will be able to bring together the best new ideas in journalism, the university research community, and the world of technology to help ensure that environmental journalism not only survives but continues to thrive through the challenges ahead.”

– Jon Christensen, Executive Director, Bill Lane Center for the American West

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WINNERS OF THE KNIGHT-RISSER PRIZE
2016
Pumped Dry
The Desert Sun and USA Today
2015
Big Oil, Bad Air
CPI, InsideClimate News, The Weather Channel
2014
Sea Change
The Seattle Times
2013
The Killing Agency
The Sacramento Bee
2012
Perilous Passages
High Country News
2011
Dry Times
5280 Magazine
2010
Chain Saw Scouting
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
2009
Logging and Landslides:
What Went Wrong?
The Seattle Times
2008
Climate Change Hits Home
San Antonio Express-News
2007
Blighted Homeland
The Los Angeles Times
2006
Squeezing Water from a Stone
High Country News