The Knight-Risser prize places a premium on stories that expose undiscovered or covered-up problems, explain complex solutions in ways that can be put to use, and help readers understand the broader significance of the issues, beyond the immediate details of the stories at hand.
A look at the stories honored during the prize’s first decade bears this out — projects on water-use issues, an examination of the impact of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation, the specifics of global warming along the Gulf Coast, and more projects dealing with timber harvesting and over-harvesting. And winning entries that address broader issues like global climate change and groundwater overuse, also carefully detail their impact on a specific area of the West.
2015 Winner: “Big Oil, Bad Air: Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas”
Jim Morris, Lisa Song, David Hasemyer, Susan White, and Greg Gilderman The Center for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News, and The Weather Channel
A 20-month joint reporting project exploring the tension between cheap energy and air quality in one of the most active oil and gas fields in the United States.
2013 Winner: "The Killing Agency"
Tom Knudson, The Sacramento Bee
An investigative series exposing brutal methods used by a little known government agency that are leaving a trail of animal death.
2012 Winner: "Perilous Passages"
Emilene Ostlind and Joe Riis, High Country News
A report that gave readers a close-up view of migration of the pronghorn antelope along a 120-mile route that is the first designated for protection by the U.S. Forest Service.
2011 Winner: "Dry Times"
Patrick Doyle and Natasha Gardner, 5280
Explanatory reporting on Denver's water challenges through engaging text and imaginative graphics. It was selected for its clear and compelling presentation of a many-layered story of geography, history, land use and policy.
2010 Winner: "Chain Saw Scouting"
Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A three-part series revealing how Boy Scout councils across America–whose mandate is to preserve and protect the environment–have logged or sold forestland.
2007 Winner: "Blighted Homeland"
Judy Pasternak, The Los Angeles Times
A four-part series documenting the poisonous legacy of military uranium mining on Navajo lands.
2005 Winner: "The Last Drop"
Todd Hartman, Jerd Smith and Ken Papaleo, The Rocky Mountain News
A five-part series outlining the threat to Rocky Mountain rivers posed by urban development on Colorado's Front Range.