The Knight-Risser Prize
for Western Environmental Journalism

2016 Winner


2016 winner

Ian James, Steve Elfers, and Steve Reilly

“Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater”

Ian James, Steve Elfers, and Steve Reilly
The Desert Sun and USA Today

Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater,” a joint project of The Desert Sun and USA Today, has won the 2016 Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism. The prize goes to Desert Sun reporter Ian James, USA Today’s Steve Elfers, a videojournalist, and Steve Reilly, a reporter and data specialist.

Supported by a team of journalists and a travel grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, James and Elfers traveled to farms in California, Kansas, India, Peru, and Morocco. In stories, photographs and information graphics, they identified a water crisis that exists not just in the West but across the country and the globe. Through interviews with scientists, farmers, government officials and residents, they illustrated how the unchecked use of underground water threatens not just current but future water supplies. The series also spawned a documentary that was shown at film festivals in Sonoma and Palm Springs, Calif., as well as Toronto and Washington D.C.

Watch the Video of Ian James’ Remarks to the Knight-Risser Prize Symposium (Story continues below)

 

Special Recognition

“Killing the Colorado”

Abrahm Lustgarten
ProPublica, in partnership with Matter

Special Recognition was given to “Killing the Colorado,” a five-part series by ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, exposing the western water crisis as the result of generations of legislative and legal decisions influenced by greed, political cowardice and willful ignorance of basic science. Produced in partnership with the online science and environment publication Matter.


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