The Knight-Risser Prize
for Western Environmental Journalism
Hell and High Water
The Texas Tribune and ProPublica

The Texas Tribune and ProPublica Report on Houston’s Flood Vulnerability Wins 2017 Knight-Risser Prize

“Hell and High Water,” an innovative collaboration between ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, has won the 2017 Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism. The deeply reported, interactive project revealed Houston’s severe vulnerability to hurricanes and flooding – and the government’s unwillingness to address the increasingly dire warnings of scientists. It also showed how Houston’s unchecked hyper-development created short term economic gains while dramatically increasing the flood risks.

Hell and High Water
The Texas Tribune and ProPublica  

The series, which combined excellent science journalism, on-the-ground reporting, and cutting edge mapping and storm simulation technology, was published more than a year before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

The prize goes to Neena Satija, investigative reporter and radio producer for The Texas Tribune and Reveal; Kiah Collier, Energy and Environment Reporter for the Texas Tribune; Ryan Murphy, Senior Designer/Developer for The Texas Tribune, and ProPublica’s News Application Developers Al Shaw and Jeff Larson.

Special Recognition Citations

The judges awarded Special Recognition to two other impressive entries this year:

“Toxic Armories,” an 18-month investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive reporter Rob Davis, uncovering the story of lead contamination at hundreds of National Guard armories around the United States, from Oregon to Maine. Armories in seven states shut their doors to clean the known hazards and National Guard leaders pledged federal money to pay for the cleanups.

“The Toxic Air Latinos Breathe,” by Jose Corbella and Clemente Álvarez of Univision Noticias, a four-chapter special on the poor air quality found in Hispanic neighborhoods in the U.S. The series described in vivid detail what it is like to live in one of the most polluted areas of the country.

About the Prize and the Judging

The Knight-Risser Prize recognizes the best environmental reporting on the North American West. It is administered by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships and The Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The winner receives a $5,000 award and participates in the Knight-Risser Prize Symposium, an annual environmental forum at Stanford.

The next symposium, to honor the 2017 winner, is being held in Paul Brest Hall at Stanford on Wed., November 15.

The Knight-Risser Prize judges this year were John Daley, Health Reporter, Colorado Public Radio; Beth Daley, Director of Strategic Development, InsideClimate News; Dawn Garcia, Director, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University; Lawrence Goulder, Shuzo Nishihara Professor in Environmental and Resource Economics at Stanford University and the Director of Stanford Center for Environmental and Energy Policy Analysis, and Paul Rogers, Natural Resources and Environmental Writer, Bay Area News Group.

 

 

Prize Administrators and Sponsors

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford is an ambitious catalyst for journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. Fellows spend their year absorbing knowledge, honing skills and developing journalism prototypes. They leverage the resources of a great university and Silicon Valley while learning from rich interactions with journalists from around the world.

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


 

 

Top row: Neena Satija and Kiah Collier of the Texas Tribune; Middle row: Ryan Murphy of the Texas Tribune, Al Shaw of ProPublica; Bottom: Jeff Larson of ProPublica

 

The series, which combined excellent science journalism, on-the-ground reporting, and cutting edge mapping and storm simulation technology, was published more than a year before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.


WINNERS OF THE KNIGHT-RISSER PRIZE
2017
Hell and High Water
Texas Tribune, ProPublica
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